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Gelatin plant arsonist detained amid capsule scandal

(Xinhua)

13:17, April 17, 2012

SHIJIAZHUANG, April 17 (Xinhua) -- The head of a gelatin plant in north China's Hebei Province was detained after allegedly setting fire to his plant to destroy evidence amid an unfolding capsule scandal.

Song Xunjie, manager of Hebei Xueyang Glair Gelatin Factory, located in Fucheng county, allegedly committed arson in the plant at 3:20 p.m. Sunday and was detained on Monday, said a statement issued by the county government early Tuesday.

The fire was put out by 4:30 p.m. Sunday, and no casualties were reported, the statement said.

An initial investigation showed that Song had set the fire while trying to destroy evidence that the plant provided industrial gelatin to capsule production companies.

Xi Huimin, deputy chief of the county's quality inspection bureau, said the bureau did not find such records in previous inspections.

The bureau on Sunday suspended production at the factory and sealed 200 tonnes of gelatin product for further investigation, said Xi.

Established in 2004 with registered capital of 2.1 million yuan (332,592 U.S. dollars), the factory has an annual production capacity of 280 tonnes and employs 32 workers. Products, mainly industrial gelatin, were sold to the cities of Beijing, Changzhou and Xiamen, as well as Zhejiang Province, according to the statement.

The factory was put under the spotlight after state media reported that it had provided industrial gelatin to a capsule production company in Zhejiang.

The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) issued an emergency notice Sunday halting the sale and consumption of 13 kinds of drugs packed in capsules confirmed to have excessive levels of chromium.

The SFDA said it has ordered its provincial-level bureaus to investigate the cases and examine the drugs mentioned in the report.

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