In the latest food safety scandal to shock and disgust Chinese consumers, an underground factory ring has been uncovered illicitly producing large amounts of fake branded seasoning products that could also be harmful to one’s health.
An investigation by The Beijing News uncovered the 50 underground factories operating in a small town about 30km outside of downtown Tianjin. At night, the factories specialized in turning industrial salt, recycled spices and food additives into counterfeit seasonings.
These seasonings would then be packaged under well-known name-brand labels such as Nestle, Lee Kum Kee, Knorr, Wang Shouyi, Haday and Totole and sold across the country. To make sure that they would pass for the real thing, workers copied barcodes off genuine products and added them to their own knockoff packaging.
The factories, located in Duliu township in Tianjin’s Jinghai District, employed dozens of workers and protected themselves from police with surveillance cameras and a kind of neighborhood watch where locals would keep a look out for strangers poking around.
The industrial salt that the factories used in producing the shanzhai seasoning is banned from human consumption, containing cancer-causing ingredients that could also cause harm to the liver, kidneys and nervous system. Needless to say, the seasonings were also produced in unsanitary environments.
Whistleblowers told the Beijing News that some of the factories had been operating for over a decade. Each year, they produced about 100 million yuan in fake products, earning managers a tidy profit and allowing them to live a life of luxury.
[Images via Sina]
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