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Shanghai mayor orders steamed bun probe

April 13, 2011

China's scandal-prone food industry is again rocked by the latest food safety scare.

SHANGHAI: Shanghai authorities have seized more than 6,000 steamed buns and the Chinese city’s mayor has ordered a probe after they were found to have been dyed, expired or filled with unidentified chemicals.

The allegations are the latest in a string of food safety scares to rattle consumers in China, which was rocked three years ago by a tainted milk scandal that left at least six infants dead and sickened 300,000.

Mayor Han Zheng said in a statement issued late yesterday that anyone found guilty of tampering with the popular Chinese snack would be prosecuted and pledged that the investigation results would be released to the public.

“Illegal manufacturers should be punished severely according to law,” the government-run Shanghai Daily quoted Han as saying.

The investigation was prompted after state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) aired a report on Monday detailing the allegations and singling out buns made by Shanghai Shenglu Food Co.

Shenglu’s “corn buns” appeared to have been dyed yellow and others sold as “black rice buns” had been dyed grey, the reports said.

Old buns were also allegedly being recycled as new and chemicals were added in random amounts but not listed on the packaging as required by law, the reports said.

Last week, investigators found that nitrite had been added to fresh milk from two dairies in a case that police later said was intentional poisoning, state media reported.

Three children died and 36 others fell ill due to the contamination, for which a man and woman were being held in custody, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Last month, the country’s largest meat processor, Shuanghui Group, was forced to apologise when some of its pork products were found to contain an illegal additive, clenbuterol, which speeds up muscle building and fat burning in livestock to produce leaner meat.

The cases highlight the problems of China’s scandal-prone food industry and its government regulators, who are still struggling to lay to rest the huge 2008 milk scandal, which saw industrial chemical melamine added to products.



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