Noodle makers in hot water

By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-04-25 09:34
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Noodle makers in hot water

Workers from a production facility in Zhongshan city, Guangdong province, that is suspected of having used illegal additives in the production of fake starch noodles, remove their impounded products from drying poles, on Thursday.[Photo / China Daily]

Claims of ink, dye and wax being used to make food prompts probe

GUANGZHOU - Seventeen starch noodle manufacturers in Dongguan city, Guangdong province, were ordered to stop production over the weekend after claims emerged that they had been using illegal additives.

A large quantity of starch noodles were seized and will be subjected to tests following a raid by the Guangdong provincial administration of quality and technology supervision.

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The starch noodles are suspected of containing illegal additives and of being made from corn instead of sweet potato, which they were supposed to have been made from, according to the packaging.

The 17 starch noodle producers were all situated in the Daliantang Industrial Development Zone in the city's Wanjiang township.

Starch noodles are an important ingredient and a staple of Chinese cuisine. There is a great variety of noodles and they vary depending on their region of production, ingredients, shape or width, and manner of preparation.

The latest food scandal started to come to light on Thursday when more than 5.5 tons of starch noodles that were suspected of being tainted were confiscated and their producer was put under investigation for allegedly having used black ink, industrial dye and paraffin wax to produce them in Gangkou township in the province's Zhongshan city, according to Guangzhou Daily.

Workers from that company claimed that nearly 50 tons of apparently tainted starch noodles had been produced by the firm and had entered the market since it started business in February.

Workers said the unusual ingredients were used in an attempt to lower production costs and create fake noodles that appeared to be made of sweet potato, the report said.

Noodles made from sweet potato are more popular and therefore more expensive in stores.

The cost of producing the fake starch noodles was around 3,000 yuan ($461) a ton while noodles made from real sweet potato will cost more than 5,000 yuan to make, the workers said.

Three executives from the company that was raided on Thursday, including the boss surnamed Luo, were detained by police.

They reportedly told investigators that they learned how to make the fake sweet potato noodles from counterparts in Dongguan.

Guangzhou Daily said the three executives told police that they got their additives and corn from the companies in Dongguan.

The claim led provincial quality authorities to send the teams to inspect the starch noodle producers in Dongguan, where they turned up evidence to support the claims.

An official from Guangdong provincial administration of quality and technology supervision, who insisted on anonymity, pledged that the case will be fully investigated and said the authority will severely punish anyone who has broken the law.

Wang Chunlian, a Guangzhou housewife, said the authorities should introduce concrete measures to enhance the supervision of food production and make sure no more tainted food enters the market.

"Food safety affects all households because ordinary residents do not have the ability to distinguish safe products from tainted ones," Wang told China Daily.