French baker Laurent Fortin has been imprisoned in China since March, along with six of his coworkers, for allegedly using expired flour at Farine, a chain of trendy French bakeries in Shanghai. Now his family is petitioning the French government to intervene for his release.
Back in March, an alleged former employee of Farine went on social media to post allegations of unhygienic practices and expired flour at the high-end bakery chain. According to Shanghaiist, the whistleblower said the company used expired and even moldy flour to make the bread sold in its stores. Not long after that, the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration launched a sudden investigation and shut down all four Farine stores and confiscated more than 570 bags of expired importd flour from Frace.
Farine issued a statement after that, saying that it had been an innocent communication error. Farine said it had been mistakenly using the “best before” dates provided by the French flour manufacturers, while China requires bakeries to follow stricter expiration dates.
La Farine owner Franck Pecol was in France when that happened, so he was not arrested. He has reportedly not returned to China and is said to still be in France. Seven of his employees were arrested, however, and have been imprisoned and face prosecution. 48-year-old French baker Laurent Fortin was among them, and his family is petitioning the French government to intervene on his behalf.
Fortin’s family says Fortin only started his job in December 2016, so he’d only been working there a few months when he was imprisoned in March 2017.
"We demand the immediate liberation of Laurent as well as the involvement of the French government," Farine’s brother wrote on the Change.org petition for his release.
If Fortin is convicted, he faces between one and 15 years in prison.