Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wow, this is an interesting story. Pork is an important meat in China, but this is going a bit far. Why not just substitute in chicken? Perhaps because chicken has a distinct taste. Ah, one of the many woes of rising inflation....

*Pork buns stuffed with cardboard*
(Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-13 09:22

Beijing authorities yesterday shut down a dim-sum booth that was
discovered stuffing its steamed buns with cardboard in an apparent
attempt to offset the rising cost of pork.
The booth's owner fled and is wanted for questioning.

The raid came after an investigative TV reporter uncovered the dodgy
buns in a kitchen a few days earlier. The kitchen was used to prepare
the dumplings for later sale at the street side booth in Beijing's
Chaoyang District.

A video broadcast on Wednesday night on China Central Television Station
showed an undercover interview conducted with a hidden camera.

The segment opened with a shot of cardboard piled in a heap between rows
of shabby houses.

The camera followed a man, whose face was not shown, into a ramshackle
building where steamers were filled with many fluffy white buns, the
type traditionally stuffed with minced pork.

The shirtless, shorts-clad man, believed to be the owner, apparently
thought the reporter was a wholesale customer for the buns.

When the reporter asked why cardboard filler was being used, the
interview subject said it was done to lower costs.

The man and a woman in the house then showed the reporter how the
process worked.

Cardboard was soaked in water, and an industrial-use caustic soda, a
poisonous chemical, was added. The cardboard lost its normal color,
became softer and started to look more like pork.

"Can customers recognize the cardboard?" the reported asked.

The man replied, "Most of them can't, as pork fat is stirred into the
concoction to make the stuffing taste more authentic."

When asked the proportion of the raw materials, the man said the mix was
60 percent cardboard to 40 percent pork fat.

About 10 minutes later, steaming servings of the buns appeared on
screen. The reporter took a bite.

"This baozi filling is kind of tough. Not much taste," the reporter
said. "Do you eat them?"

The man answered, "No."

"Most of my customers are residents in nearby areas," the man said. "It
may save me almost 1,000 yuan (US$132) a day."

It was unclear how long the booth had been serving the cardboard-filled
dumplings. The kitchen was in nearby Taiyanggong Village, far enough
away that customers couldn't discover the true nature of the dumpling

Officials with the Zuojiazhuang Industrial and Commercial Administration
closed down the kitchen yesterday and began questioning its landlord,
according to the Beijing Times report.

Chaoyang District's Industrial and Commercial Administration said it
will inspect the district's 58 dim-sum restaurants to make sure similar
shortcuts aren't being taken.

Pork prices in 36 major cities across the nation continued to rise last
month due to a continuing supply shortage.

it appears the story was a hoax.
The press now reports that the cardboard baozi story was a hoax, but the speculation in HK is that the story uncovering the hoax is in fact the real hoax. Either way, it demostrates just how little faith people both in and out of China have in the safety of Chinese food.
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