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Five held in China steamed bun probe

by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) April 13, 2011
Chinese authorities said Wednesday they had detained five people and shut down a steamed bun company whose products were found to have been dyed, expired or filled with unidentified chemicals.

Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng ordered a probe into Shanghai Shenglu Food Co. and has vowed to prosecute anyone found guilty of tampering with the popular Chinese snack, in the latest food safety scare to rattle Chinese consumers.

"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 Shenglu.

Shenglu's licence was revoked and five company officials were taken into custody on Wednesday after admitting yellow dye had been used to make more than 300,000 "corn buns" since January, a city government statement 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, state media 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 in which the industrial chemical melamine was added to dairy products.

The tainted milk scandal left at least six infants dead and sickened 300,000.

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