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Problematic tofu may have come to Shanghai

By Chen Xiaoru (Global Times)

10:22, May 27, 2013

Although local quality control authorities said they have found no evidence that problematic tofu products from Jiangsu Province were sold to Shanghai, tofu produced at illegal plants in the province have been sold in the city for a long time, an industry insider said Sunday.

Tofu products from small plants in Taicang, Jiangsu Province, are often sold in bulk at wet markets around Shanghai, said Sun Bolin, the owner of a registered tofu maker in Baoshan district.

"Unlike tofu products that have their company names and other production information printed on their packaging, these products are made at small plants and are difficult for the government to oversee," Sun told the Global Times.

Dragon TV reported Friday that local industry and commerce officials in Taicang had received a tip that an illicit tofu plant in Liunan village was selling most of its products to Shanghai. The plant was found producing bean curd with suspicious cooking oil.

The Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce has not found any problematic tofu products made at illegal plants in Liunan village in Taicang, according to an administration press officer surnamed Zhang. "We have sent officers to look into the illegal plants raided by the Taicang authorities, and there is no evidence showing that the tofu was sold to Shanghai," he told the Global Times.

According to the Dragon TV report, Taicang officials found about 100 similar workshops operating out of the village. Many used suspicious additives, including an anti-foaming agent whose label bore no producer name or address.

Gao Lixin, an official with the Taicang industry and commerce authority, told Dragon TV that the illicit plants sold their products in Shanghai.

Taicang officials have also discovered a plant in the village producing cooking oil from waste cooking oil known as "gutter oil," Gao said. They also found more than 1,000 kilograms of illicit additives in one of the tofu plants.

Over the weekend, however, Taicang officials changed their story. The city's industry and commerce authority said the problematic tofu was mainly sold in the local market, the Xinmin Evening News reported Sunday.

The Shanghai Municipal Food Safety Committee spokesperson Gu Zhenhua declined to comment Sunday.

The Jiading district office of the Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce said that they had suspended business at six local tofu stands.

Although their tofu did not come from the illegal plant in the news report, an investigation found that the stands sourced products from Taicang and could not provide authorities with the proper purchasing documents, the Xinmin Evening News reported Sunday.

The Shanghai Bean Curd Products Trade Association announced on its website that its 41 member companies, 39 of which are based in Shanghai, produce 90 percent of the tofu products sold in the city. However, the association did not say whether the figure included tofu products sold in bulk, like those found at the illicit plants.

The Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce said on its microblog that it tested 752 batches of tofu products last year and 98 percent passed.

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