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Wed, Jun 20, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Chinese `zongzi' maker caught recycling filling

DUMPSTER DUMPLINGS Wan Maomao, which had been warned a year ago for producing substandard 'zongzi,' was caught using long-expired, rotting filling


A company in eastern China was ordered to stop production after food safety officials found it was repackaging the filling from two-year-old rice dumplings, an official said yesterday.

Officials in Anhui Province ordered a recall of all zongzi, a traditional snack made of glutinous rice and other fillings usually wrapped in bamboo leaves, made by the manufacturer, Wan Maomao Frozen Food Co, said the official with the Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau in Anhui's capital, Hefei.

"We received reports from people saying this company was making zongzi with two-year-old materials. So we went there, closed their production line and destroyed their products. We are still tracking down those which have already been sold," said the official, who like many Chinese would give only his surname, Wu.

There were no reports of anyone falling ill from eating the dumplings.

But the recall came amid an uproar over problems with tainted foods and medicines that has spread to other countries following the discovery of toxic chemicals from China in medicines, pet foods and toothpaste made or sold overseas.

The factory had removed the original wrappings from the dumplings and repackaged them as "made in 2007," a report in the Shanghai Daily newspaper yesterday said. Some of the dumplings had already begun to rot, it said.

Wu said the dumplings were not sold outside Anhui.

"We are still investigating. The company will be punished according to law after the investigation," Wu said.

Calls to the number listed for Wan Maomao Frozen Foods rang unanswered.

The Shanghai Daily said authorities found two tonnes of the expired dumplings in a weekend raid of the factory. They retrieved another 1.4 tonnes that had already been sold, it said.

Last week, the national quality inspection administration announced that 10 percent of rice dumplings made by 133 producers nationwide had failed tests because they contained excessive amounts of food additives.

The tests showed that the leaves contained high amounts of copper sulfate or copper chloride, normally used to make the leaves bright green.

The Shanghai Daily reported that Wan Maomao was warned last year for making substandard zongzi.

Hit by a rash of food safety problems, China needs to take effective action to ensure its products are not harmful, an official with the country's main food safety board said yesterday.

"At present, food safety issues have attracted wide attention globally," Wei Chuanzhong (魏傳忠), deputy director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said in a statement posted on the administration's Web site.

The statement said Wei, on a recent tour of Hubei Province and Shanghai, had ordered local inspection bodies to boost their work.

That included "building up enterprises' administrative levels and management systems" and speeding "up reforms on inspections and quarantines."

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