(Yicai Global) Dec. 17 -- A unit of Chinese traditional medicine maker Tong Ren Tang reportedly used expired honey in its products. Beijing food and drug regulators have launched an investigation into the matter.
Formed in 1669, the Beijing-based company is a time-honored brand in the traditional Chinese medicine sector. It is China's largest TCM medicine maker with more than 2,600 products under six major categories -- including drugs and health food -- and an annual income of up to CNY13.3 billion (USD1.9 billion). The firm also operates over 100 retail outlets overseas.
Yancheng, Jiangsu province-based processor Jinfeng Food Technology collected large sums of expired or almost expired honey and used it in production, Jiangsu Television reported on Dec. 15. Local authorities charged the company with serious food-safety violations.
Jingfeng also reportedly tweaked the production date of its honey in October, then supplied it to the Tong Ren Tang unit for use in health foods.
Tongrentang Bee Industry has asked Jingfeng to seal the subject products and materials, Tong Ren Tang said in a statement yesterday. The honey supplier will suspend production during the investigation and cooperate with authorities, it said.
Tong Ren Tang owns 51.29 percent of shares of Tongrentang Bee Industry. The unit took in CNY280 million (USD40 million) with a net profit of CNY2.7 million last year, making up 2 percent of the parent's income for the year, it added.
Food and drug regulators in Beijing's Daxing district have also begun looking into Tongrentang Bee Industry, Beijing Youth Daily reported.
Authorities will investigate it and punish it severely if it is found to have broken the law, the report cited officials as saying.
Editor: Ben Armour