Tue, Jun 15, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Food company head commits suicide over dumplings

AP , SEOUL

The head of a food company jumped to his death after a government investigation found that his company sold dumplings made with rotten ingredients, a police official said yesterday.

Police have yet to find the body of the man -- identified in media reports only by his family name, Shin -- the head of Vision Food, a dumpling company based in South Jeolla Province. But officers found his identification card and a recently written will, and a witness saw a man matching his description jumping from a bridge in Seoul's Han River on Sunday, a police official said on customary condition of anonymity.

Last week, South Korea's Food and Drug Administration announced that at least 12 companies had been using rotten radishes in their frozen dumplings from last year until February this year, and ordered the dumplings pulled off the shelves.

The government has so far confiscated 20 tonnes of what the local press dubbed "garbage dumplings'' while food makers retrieved and destroyed at least 50 tonnes.

In his will, Shin said that he faced economic difficulties with creditors following the dumpling scandal. He wrote that his company's dumplings were harmless.

So far, there have been no reports of illness from the dumplings. Still, department stores have told local media that dumpling sales have dropped by up to 90 percent after the announcement.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, South Korea exports US$5 million worth of dumplings annually. The US imported US$2.6 million worth, followed by Japan with US$880,000, Australia with US$640,000, Hong Kong at US$370,000 and Germany with US$350,000.

It was unclear how many "garbage dumplings'' have been distributed at home or abroad.

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