At one firm, workers were removing raisins from mixture of dirt and rubbish Food safety authorities in Guangdong have cracked down on 14 companies that were collecting food waste and repackaging it for sale in more then 10 mainland provinces. Nearly 10 tonnes of food waste was seized at one plant in Anbu township, Chaoan county, along with 491 cases of rotten sweets and 300 boxes of out-of-date fruit jellies, Xinhua reported yesterday. The crackdown was launched on Tuesday last week and teams of food inspectors - posing as buyers - visited 14 companies in Anbu township selling recycled food products. 'By last Saturday, most of the poor-quality food products had been seized and locked up,' the report said. The stores bought the food from a local waste-recycling station and then repackaged it for sale. It is an open secret that food waste is recycled in Anbu. On the road by the river bank, advertisements promoting the sale of expired food products and food waste are everywhere. The owner of the waste-recycling station said dealing in food waste was profitable in Anbu. He said he could obtain his raw materials at cheap prices from either large food companies or waste plants. 'One kilogram of waste candies sells for 5 yuan, and jellies for 11 yuan,' he said. He said most of his clients were small- and medium-sized food-processing companies. At one of the 14 companies that was shut down, provincial food authorities found dozens of workers separating half-rotten raisins from a mixture of dirt, dry grass and even rusty screws and plastic bottle caps. The waste had come from the northwestern Xinjiang Autonomous Region , the authorities said. Also at the site, several workers were found pouring a banned red dye into a large jar containing pieces of radish. The treated radish was to be repackaged and sold as 'spicy strawberries'. In another plant, hundreds of bags of biscuit pieces were sitting alongside bags of cement in a run-down storage area. Workers were found making beef jerky out of soya bean products - after marinating them in dark red dye and artificial beef flavouring. Apart from Guangdong, the food products were to be sent to about 10 provinces including Jiangxi , Hunan , Anhui and Shandong . An official from the Guangdong provincial Quality Inspection Bureau yesterday said Hong Kong was not on the list, but declined to elaborate. 'A vicious industrial chain of waste food recycling has been operating here for some time,' bureau head Zhang Huoli said. 'This is a hazard to local people's health.'