Food safety has increasingly become a concern in China with a series of incidents exposed by media concerning contamination and the illegal use of prohibited ingredients and additives in foodstuffs. The list of unsafe foodstuffs in the country seems growing non-stop… Lately, Mantou (steamed-wheat bread), staple diet in many regions of the country, is on the list after a Shanghai media exposed a brand of Mantou long sold in some supermarket is found to be actually made in a dirty workshop with many unexpected ingredients.
"Recycle" expired Mantou:
Usually, expired foodstuffs are recycled by manufacturers and are used to feed animals or sold to other manufacturers. But in this exposed Mantou producer, Shanghai Sheng Lu Foods Company, they are used to make new "fresh" Mantou. In a report, the workers put Mantous that’s 7 days past the expiration date into a dough-kneading machine, then immersed it in water to soften the expired dried Mantou. Five minutes later, they pour two bags of flour into the machine, blending it with the softened Mantou to make dough. The dough then are ready to be placed into a Mantou maker machine to produce fresh-looking Mantou which are later sent to supermarket for sale.
The manufacturer is obviously rather casual about the production dating. The worker puts the same date label onto both the Mantou made in same day and the Mantou made few days ago. The production date they put on the package is always the exact date the Mantou are sent and displayed in the supermarket, that’s one day after its real production date. So the date consumers reads on the package is probably 3 or 4 days after its real production.
On their food label, the food additives are sugar and Vitamin C, but what they actually add into the Mantou are sodium cyclamate and potassium sorbate. Sodium cyclamate is an artificial sweetener which is 30–50 times sweeter than sugar, banned in U.S.A because of the possible carcinogenic effects, but approved in China as a sweetener with maximum amount in certain food categories, and in Mantou, 0.65g/kg. Potassium sorbate is a food preservative, approved to be used in many food categories, but banned in many fermented flour products including Mantou. In the investigation, the reporter said, workers are really random at the amount of additives they put into the Mantou, adding however much as they want
Sodium Cyclamate used in the workshop
Then how can they pass the monthly food safety check? An employee of the company told the reporter, they have their way to dodge it. When the officials come, they would take the food sample to the office for the check and lock up the door to the workshop.
"Dye" the Mantou:
The yellow colored Mantou is Mantou with corn flour. But instead of using corn flour, the manufacturer slyly added the color additive-Tartrazine to give Mantou an appetizing yellow color. "There’s not a single manufacturer that actually makes the maize powder Mantou with 100 percent real material, the cost will be too high if we use corn to make Mantou, that’s simply impossible!" claimed the worker who keeps officials away from the workshop.
Tartrazine used in the workshop
Mantou sent to the supermarket
Before this report, everyday over 30,000 Mantous made by this manufacturer are sent to supply more than 30 supermarkets in Shanghai.
In the wake of the exposure of this Mantou producer in Shanghai, more unscrupulous manufacturers that produce unhealthy Mantou are exposed one after another:
I would like to end the post with an interesting entry from a QQ Microblog page where Chinese netizens discuss about the Mantou incident:
"Wake up early in the morning, buy two Youtiaos fried in swill-cooked sewage oil, have a salty duck egg dyed with Sudan Red, finish a cup of powdered milk contaminated with melamine… drive to work in a car with Kumho tires (from Korean company). For the lunch, pork added with lean meat powder, together with contaminated vegetable , an artificial egg with beef injected with glue. After work, buy an fish fed with contraceptive medicine, abnormally large tomato (as the effect of some chemicals), a gypsum tofu. Then go back to the jelly-built projects house( house that’s built in shorter time, with bad and less material and consequently of poor quality) "