Zhejiang checks food, raids illegal bun makers

08:45, April 18, 2011      

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Food quality inspectors launched a raid on steamed bun producers in Zhejiang Province, and found tens of thousands of buns containing banned dyes and other chemicals, sold to schools.

The Wenzhou Longwan Industrial and Commercial Administrative Office detected in a raid on Friday that a food processing workshop in the coastal city was adding prohibited chemicals to its products. The workshop has been closed by authorities.

Food safety watchdogs said the workshop had produced buns containing illegal yellow coloring every day for the past two months. Some of the tainted steamed buns were supplied to local schools.

The authorities were checking whether any student had been made sick, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday. They said nearly 200,000 buns were found containing banned dyes and other chemicals.

The buns were being produced at an illegal hideout in a residential building, officials said. The operators didn't have a business license. The hideout was dirty and the workers were said to have also eaten and slept there.

A female worker told officials they added pigment and corn flavors when making dough for "corn buns." For other buns, they added saccharin and flavoring to make them smell and taste better.

Officials said their hands turned yellow when they touched the "corn buns." They found bottles of chemicals but not a single grain of corn.

From an account found in the hideout, the operators earned about 3,000 yuan (US$428) a day, and up to 200,000 buns were sold from March 22 to April 14, among which about 11,000 were sold to a nearby school.

The raid in Zhejiang came on the heels of the shutdown of a Shanghai-based company earlier last week, which triggered vehement criticism from local residents.

Five managers of Shanghai Shenglu Food Corp were detained by police for adding similar chemical dyes to steamed buns. The coloring was to make buns look like corn buns and to sell the fake corn buns at higher prices. Shanghai quality authorities are now checking all Chinese style snacks on the market.

By People's Daily Online
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