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Punishments follow steamed buns scandal

FOUR officials in Shanghai have been punished for dereliction of duty in relation to a recent food safety scandal involving steamed buns, the city government said yesterday. Wang Xinghua, deputy director of Baoshan District's food production supervision office, has been removed from his post. Two other officials of the agency and a deputy director of the district's quality and technology supervision bureau were given "disciplinary punishments," a joint investigation team said in a statement. Tang Qi, director of Lianhua Biaochao Co, the company that runs the Lianhua and Hualian supermarket chains, was fined an amount that was not revealed. The two supermarkets were the main outlets for the steamed buns which contained banned additives and had been made with expired buns recycled and added to the mix. An investigation into the popular product was launched after China Central Television exposed production problems. Shanghai Shenglu Food Co in Baoshan was found to have been recycling expired buns and adding chemical additives and coloring to make them appear fresh. Five employees of the company, including its director and general manager Ye Weilu, were detained by police. Following the television expose, officials with the Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision inspected 19 batches of the company's products. Four were found to contain a banned lemon yellow food coloring and two had excess amounts of artificial sweetener. The color was added so ordinary buns could be sold as more expensive corn-flour buns. Up to yesterday, the Lianhua chain said they had issued refunds on 22,000 packs of buns valued at 670,000 yuan (US$100,000). Quality officials said new regulations will ensure that outlets never again return expired food to producers but destroy the expired food themselves. The rules also mean that markets will have to make sure that the food they sell has been properly produced. Food approaching its expiry date will have to be sold separately and with clear signs indicating exactly what thes! e dates are. The bureau is inspecting food companies across the city.

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