Samples of fake seasoning made in the production hub in Duliu, Tianjian [Photo: social media]
18 people have been arrested for manufacturing fake seasoning with dangerous ingredients and labeling the counterfeits as well-known brands in a production hub in Tianjin.
After the news broke last month, the city set up a team to investigate 50 factories allegedly producing fake seasonings including soy sauce, vinegar, spices, and chicken stock using industrial salt, artificial colouring, and food additives in a residential area in Duliu County.
The products' packaging was made to look like popular brands such as Maggi, Totole, and Nestle.
It's reported that fake seasoning scam was worth up to 100 million yuan, or about 15 million US dollars, per year. The counterfeiting was reportedly going on unchecked for ten years.
During the investigation, the police shut down three counterfeiting gangs, punished seven production sheds, and arrested 18 suspects, including three prime culprits.
The municipal government said the scandal reflected the delinquency of the local authorities, and found 15 district and county officials accountable. Among them, 12 have been punished, including three county leaders who have been dismissed from their administrative posts and in the Communist Party.
China has been no stranger to food safety scandals. In 2014, a Shanghai food company supplied old meat to fast food chains McDonalds and KFC in China.
In 2016, 35 restaurants were found to be selling food seasoned with opium poppies.