Hainan’s disaster-relief official suspended due to moldy bread scandal
A senior disaster-relief official from south China's Hainan Province has been suspended after villagers hit by Typhoon Rammasun were given moldy bread by relief workers, the local civil affairs department said on Wednesday.
Li Huiying, head of the department's disaster-relief section, will be investigated for dereliction of duty and transferred to another post, it said.
Hainan Huajian Trading Co, which supplied the bread, has had its business license revoked, the Legal Daily reported.
The scandal came to light last Sunday when Internet users reported that more than 200 villagers in Wengtian Town were given boxes of moldy bread by the township government.
The labels on the bread said it was produced on July 1 by a Fujian Province-based company called Jinwangda. The bread should have had a six-month shelf life, but villagers found it was already moldy.
At a press conference on Monday, Miao Jianzhong, head of the Hainan Civil Affairs Department, made a public apology.
"I felt sick when I heard about the case. The civil affairs department must take responsibility, and we apologize to all of the people affected," he said.
An initial investigation found that the department's disaster-relief section had paid 57,300 yuan (US$9,200) for 1,127 boxes of bread, biscuits and cakes from Huajian. The trading company had in turn bought the food from suppliers in Guangdong, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces.
Food and drug authorities visited Jinwangda's factory on Tuesday, Xinhua news agency reported.
Officials found that the company sent 500 boxes of products to disaster-hit areas, 290 of which were seized before being handed out to villagers. Most of the 210 boxes already distributed were recalled for checking, Xinhua said.
Jinwangda has been ordered to suspend operations pending an inquiry, it said.
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