UPDATE (March 25, 2017 at 2.20am CST): Farine has officially released a statement in response to the food sanitary scandal. Read the full thing here.
Drama continues to unfold over allegations made about popular bakery Farine's use of 'expired flour,' as it emerged that eight people have been detained in police custody following an investigation into the company's warehouses, according to Xinmin News.
In an article that praised Weibo 'whistle blower' @1987晋宝宝, the report states that foreign members of Farine's personnel were among those detained, though they have not been named.
The head of Shanghai's Food and Drug association, Yan Zuqiang was quoted as saying:
"If a company intends to do something against the law, it will find certain ways to cover it up. [In this case] He attempts to cover his deeds by registering different companies."
He went on to add that if the allegations are correct then the company has been in violation of Article 34 of Shanghai's Food Safety Law, which prohibits the use of materials that are past their shelf life. If proven guilty, the detained will be held criminally liable.
Local media report that law enforcement officials have taken away several samples of Farine's products for further inspection. Here were the findings, according to Shanghai Daily:
“'The bakery company was suspected of using expired flour to produce a total of 3,820 breads since March 6, which were distributed to its franchises in Xuhui, Huangpu and Pudong New Area,' Wang Zhe, deputy director of the Minhang Market Supervision and Management Bureau said.
"Wang added that 1,930 bread items were sold and the rest had been destroyed.
"At La Manufacture, Farine’s headquarters and factory in Minhang, expired flour was sealed by the bureau.
"A pack of imported rye flour weighing 25 kilograms, produced by Minoteries Viron in France, was said to have expired last November 29. Production at the factory has been suspended.
'After receiving the tip-off, we sealed 578 packs of flour of 13 batches at the factory and immediately ordered the bakery to suspend production,' Wang said. Samples had been sent for tests.
"Expired flour with expiry dates from July 28 last year to March 5 this year had been made into 11 types of breads and sold at the four outlets, according to the bureau...
"The Wukang Road outlet had made 1,113 breads with the expired flour, the most among the four outlets, and more than 700 of those had been sold, with the rest destroyed, the bureau said."
Shanghai Daily reports that Farine executives have told authorities that no regulations targeting expiry periods for wheat and wheatmeal exist in France, and that flour can be used for up to two years even if the expiration period on the Chinese label is nine to twelve months. They're also claiming that their high quality stone ground flours are imported from France.
The 'whistle blowing' allegations were published on Weibo by an individual claiming to be an ex-employee of Farine, who mentioned founder, expat restaurateur Franck Pécol, by name. The 30-year-old employee allegedly began working for Farine in October 2016, and recorded his findings over several weeks. He turned the footage into authorities on March 20, the same day the city introduced some of its most stringent food regulations.
Shanghai's Food and Drug Administration has increased the reward for 'whistle blowers' tipping authorities off to food safety incidents to RMB300,000.
All four Farine branches have been temporarily closed following the investigation, and their listings removed from local listing site Dianping. Pécol's namesake restaurant, Franck Bistrot, is also closed until "early next week."
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