Four people have officially been arrested over last month’s explosive expired flour scandal at Shanghai’s once popular Farine bakery.
The bakery’s production director, Laurent Daniel Fortin, a French national, along with three Chinese employees, Xin Xiangrong, Hu Jun and Lu Jiajian, were all arrested by prosecutors in Minhang District, Shanghai Daily reports. They are accused of making bread using expired flour at the bakery’s factory in Minhang starting in December 2016, and then selling that bread at the bakery’s now-closed shops in Shanghai which used to be popular among both expats and locals.
In an official statement late last month, Farine apologized to its customers and admitted to mistakenly using expired flour:
About the flour we use at Farine. We ship our flour from France and stock in our warehouse in Shanghai. Due to the delay of Min Hang central kitchen opening, our current flour stock expiry date has exceeded by a few months. We did use a small part of this stock. The use of this small part was based on best used before date, without realizing that China applies a strict earlier expiry date. This is clearly a mistake even though we obtain lab test from supplier to prove absolutely safety of using this flour. We sincerely apologize for that and decide to change our internal control process to be in full compliance of Chinese regulations.
The whole thing began in late March when a former employee went public with his allegations against Farine by posting them onto Weibo, claiming that while he had worked at Farine’s flagship Wukang Lu shop, the bakery had a policy of using expired and even moldy flour in making its premium bread products. In the scandalous post, he even mentioned Farine founder Franck Pécol by name. The “whistleblower” also alleged that the bakery’s kitchen was plagued with hygiene problems, including mold and rats that frolicked across the floor each night. Along with his post, the ex-employee included a series of videos that he had secretly filmed inside the kitchen while he worked at the shop.
The Weibo user’s explosive report quickly launched an investigation by the Shanghai Food and Drug administration. All Farine locations in Shanghai were shut down by authorities. Bread products at the shops were destroyed with samples taken back for further investigation and testing. Meanwhile, 578 bags of expired imported flour were seized from Farine’s headquarters in Minhang District, and eight senior managers were taken away.
While the scandal was blowing up in Shanghai, Pécol himself was on a trip back to France that allegedly had been previously planned.
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