A TV report earlier this month that purportedly showed a Beijing seller using softened chopped cardboard as the main ingredient in steamed buns has been dismissed as false news.
The Beijing municipal government said last night that investigations had found an employee surnamed Zi with Beijing Television fabricated and directed the sensational program for higher audience ratings. Zi is being held under criminal custody.
The program, broadcast on July 8 on Beijing TV Life Channel, featured the maker of the buns - or baozi - talking about how the product was made and sold in the capital's sprawling Chaoyang District.
The report said 60 percent of the bun's ingredients were chopped cardboard that had been soaked in caustic soda. Pork flavor and fatty meat were added to the cardboard, it claimed.
The story gained more currency after China Central Television relayed the program nationwide last Thursday, and added to international concerns about made-in-China products.
However, the government announcement said that Zi had provided all the cardboard and asked the vendor to soak it. "It's all cheating," it said.
The municipal government also said that after the report, industrial and commercial officers inspected bun sellers across the city, but found no such problem.
Beijing TV apologized in the announcement for failing to check the authenticity of the report, adding it will punish editors involved and make efforts to improve professional ethics of its staff.
(China Daily 07/19/2007 page1)