China: Around The Nation

‘Worst food factory’ fined only for incorrect labelling of ingredients in preserved meat products

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 August, 2016, 1:16pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 August, 2016, 1:16pm

A Shaanxi meat factory has been fined 5,000 yuan (HK$5,850) for incorrectly labelling ingredients on its preserved meat products that contained extra injected water and food additives, a mainland newspaper reported, but the finished products passed quality tests despite an official describing the factory as the “worst” he had seen.

The meat from the factory in Xian, labelled “Hunan Preserved Meat”, is softer and brighter than most similar preserved meats due to the extra water and food additives injected during the production, a former worker in the factory surnamed Zhang told the Chinese Business View.

Zhang said the director bought water injection machines and instructed workers to increase the additives, including sodium tripolyphosphate, carrageenan and starch. The additives helped preserve more water in the curing process, greatly increasing the yield.

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The allegations were reported to the food and drug administration in Xian in July and officials paid a surprise visit to the factory for an unannounced inspection on July 13.

The meat factory, which lacked a proper sign on its front door, was operating in a Xian industrial zone with its door locked and when the officials arrived it took more than 10 minutes for anybody to come to the door.

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The factory had been operating with its door shut all year, according to nearby villager.

During the inspection, the officials found a mosquito killer situated above the pool in which meat was soaked during the curing process, with dead mosquitoes floating on the pool, the report said.

Workers also admitted that instead of weighing the additives, they estimated the amount using bowls and based on their past experience. The officials also found the workers hiding food additives in their dormitories.

“It was the worst food factory I have ever inspected,” official Liu Zhongqi said, and 10 major food safety faults, including an unhygienic environment, were found during the inspection.

Despite this, the preserved meat passed a quality check on Tuesday after samples were sent to the administration offices. Every component of the meat inspected met the criteria and hygienic standard of preserved meat, according to the report.

The factory had improved its conditions when the officials returned for a second inspection on August 5, and it was only fined 5,000 yuan for incorrect information on its ingredients, the report said.