A freelance reporter for a Beijing television station (CCTV) has been detained and accused of faking a hidden camera report about street vendors who used chemical-soaked cardboard to fill meat buns, local media said on Thursday.
The story, allegedly shot with a hidden camera, was broadcast on Beijing Television and China Central Television last week and created a buzz on the Internet, with web enthusiasts flooding chatrooms with comments expressing shock and disgust.
Beijing Television on Wednesday publicly apologized for the report and vowed to prevent inaccurate news coverage in the future.
The Beijing Youth Daily said late on Wednesday that the creator of the news report, identified only by his surname, Zi, had been detained by police but did not say when.
Zi's footage appeared to show a makeshift kitchen where workers made fluffy buns stuffed with 60 percent cardboard that had been softened by a bath of caustic soda and 40 percent fatty pork.
The paper said that in mid-June, Zi brought meat, flour, cardboard and other ingredients to a downtown Beijing neighborhood and had four people make the buns for him while he filmed the process.
The report said Zi "gave them the idea" of mincing softened cardboard and adding it to the buns.
The CCTV report came amid a spate of real food scares involving toxic fish, tainted pork and eggs yolks colored with a cancer-causing dye that have harmed China's reputation as an exporter and alarmed people at home.