China Pulls Two-Year-Old Dumplings Off Menu

Company in eastern China ordered to stop production after food safety officials found it was repackaging the filling from two-year-old rice dumplings.

SHANGHAI, China (AP) - 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 Tuesday.

Officials in east China's 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 comes amid an uproar over problems with tainted foods and medicines, some of them made with toxic chemicals, that has spread to other countries.

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

Chinese wheat gluten tainted with the chemical melamine was blamed for dog and cat deaths in North America. Products turned away by U.S. inspectors include toxic monkfish, frozen eel and juice made with unsafe color additives, while Chinese-made toothpaste has been rejected by a handful of countries.

The Anhui dumpling manufacturer had removed the original wrappings from the dumplings and repackaged them as made in 2007, according to a report Tuesday in the official Shanghai Daily newspaper. 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. According to its Web site, the company was founded in 1997 and was considered a famous local brand in Anhui.

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

Zongzi are traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat festival each June. According to custom, the dumplings originally were thrown into a river as an offering to the ancient poet Qu Yuan, who according to legend drowned himself in 278 BC.

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.

According to Shanghai Daily, Wan Maomao was warned last year for making substandard zongzi.


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