BEIJING, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinese police have detained 53 suspects and closed 10 industrial gelatin and gel capsule factories believed to have been involved in producing contaminated medicine capsules.
Police have also confiscated more than 230 tonnes of industrial gelatin in Hebei, Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Shandong provinces since the scandal was exposed on Sunday, the Ministry of Public Security said in a Thursday statement.
China Central Television (CCTV) revealed on Sunday that several companies have been manufacturing drug capsules with industrial gelatin, which contains a greater amount of chromium than edible gelatin and can be toxic if ingested in excessive amounts.
Huang Ming, deputy minister of public security, urged local bureaus at all levels to pay greater attention and crack down on illegal conduct that may pose a threat to food and drug safety.
The police will work with relevant departments to investigate gelatin-related food and drug producers, the ministry said, encouraging tips from the public.
Factories will be shut down and dealt with in accordance with the law if they are found to be using industrial gelatin in the manufacture of drug or food products, the ministry said.
The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) Thursday announced the results of an analysis of 42 batches of medicine capsules, most of which came from the manufacturers named in the CCTV report.
The watchdog found that 23 of the batches contained excessive amounts of chromium and ordered manufacturers to recall the batches and have them destroyed under supervision.
Drug production licenses for three gel capsule producers in Zhejiang province have been revoked by the SFDA's local bureaus. Local food and drug supervisory staff who had failed to take care of their responsibilities would be punished accordingly, while those suspected of committing crimes would be referred to judicial authorities, the SFDA said in a statement.
China's consumer quality watchdog on Thursday also vowed to carry out thorough investigations into industrial gelatin processors and food makers who use gelatin.
Relentless efforts must be made to crack down on illegal activities in the industry, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) said.