SHIJIAZHUANG, April 17 (Xinhua) -- The head of a gelatin plant in north China's Hebei Province has been detained after allegedly setting fire to his plant to destroy evidence amid an unfolding scandal involving the manufacture of contaminated medicine capsules.
Song Xunjie, manager of the Hebei Xueyang Glair Gelatin Factory, located in Fucheng county, allegedly set fire to the plant at 3:20 p.m. Sunday and was detained on Monday, said a statement issued by the county government early Tuesday.
The fire was put out by 4:30 p.m. Sunday and no casualties were reported, the statement said.
An initial investigation showed that Song set the fire while trying to destroy evidence indicating that the plant provided industrial gelatin to capsule production companies.
Xi Huimin, deputy chief of the county's quality inspection bureau, said the bureau did not find evidence of such activity during previous inspections.
The bureau on Sunday suspended production at the factory and sealed 200 tonnes of gelatin for further investigation, said Xi.
Established in 2004, the factory has an annual production capacity of 280 tonnes of gelatin and employs 32 workers. Its products, mainly industrial gelatin, were sold in the cities of Beijing, Changzhou and Xiamen, as well as Zhejiang Province, according to the statement.
The factory came under scrutiny after state media reported that it had provided industrial gelatin to a capsule production company in Zhejiang.
The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) issued an emergency notice Sunday halting the sale and consumption of 13 kinds of drugs packed in medicine capsules that were confirmed to contain excessive levels of chromium.
The SFDA said it has ordered its provincial-level bureaus to investigate the cases and examine the drugs mentioned in the report.
The SFDA has dispatched a team to Xinchang county in Zhejiang, where China Central Television revealed that several companies in Xinchang had manufactured drug capsules with industrial gelatin, the SFDA said.
The team is working with local food and drug administration to determine the sources of the industrial gelatin, investigate the production process for contaminated capsules and find out where the capsules were sold, the SFDA said.
A total of 23 people who allegedly produced and sold pharmaceutical capsules containing excessive levels of chromium in Xinchang have been detained as of Tuesday, local police said.