A company in east China's Anhui Province has been fined 50,000 yuan (about US$6,500) and ordered to cease production of glutinous rice dumplings, known as zongzi in Chinese.
The 9,400 kilograms of zongzi seized in the company's workshops and in local markets will be destroyed in public, and the company's hygiene permit will be revoked, which means the company is forbidden to produce food, according to a decision made by the city's Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau in the provincial capital of Hefei on Tuesday afternoon.
Wanmaomao Frozen Food Co. was caught repackaging old dumplings produced two years ago. Acting on a tip off, the bureau raided the company on Sunday.
"The dumplings had gone bad. They were black in appearance and smelled to high heaven," said Wu Wei, an official with the bureau.
Wu said the company rented an ice house in a meat-processing plant in the city and stored about 8,800 kilograms of two-year-old zongzi there.
They had repackaged about 800 kilograms of the old zongzi and sold them in Taihu and other cities in the province. Police said that all the products sold that were past their use-by date had been recovered.
"In their leave coverings, it's very hard to distinguish bad dumplings from new ones, so we decided to recall all 'Wanmaomao' brand products," said Wu.
Zongzi, a traditional snack made of glutinous rice and various fillings and usually wrapped in reed leaves, is traditionally eaten during the "dragon boat festival". Chinese people have been celebrating the "dragon boat festival" for almost 2,300 years.
The leaves used to wrap the problematic zongzi had a high copper sulfate or copper chloride content to give them a bright green appearance.
Wu said the company had won a "famous trademark of Hefei" award in 2003 as well as an "enterprise exempt from inspection and examination" certificate.
"We have asked the authorities to revoke the award and the certificate," said Wu.
Company management was unavailable for comment at press time.
(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2007)