Fake soy sauce flavored with hair salon clippings? Fake eggs implanted in fake eggshells? Amazingly, it gets worse in this Los Angeles Times piece on China’s fast-ballooning food safety issues. Never have I been so thankful for the FDA:
If anything, China’s food scandals are becoming increasingly frequent and bizarre.
In May, a Shanghai woman who had left uncooked pork on her kitchen table woke up in the middle of the night and noticed that the meat was emitting a blue light, like something out of a science fiction movie. Experts pointed to phosphorescent bacteria, blamed for another case of glow-in-the-dark pork last year.
Farmers in eastern Jiangsu province complained to state media last month that their watermelons had exploded “like landmines” after they mistakenly applied too much growth hormone in hopes of increasing their size.
“The profit margin is bigger than drug trafficking if you add the lean pork powder to the pig food,” said Zhou Qing, an author and dissident, who has styled himself as China’s equivalent of Upton Sinclair.
In 2006, Zhou published a book about the Chinese food industry that would extinguish the heartiest appetite. He wrote about foods tainted with pesticides, industrial salts, bleaches, paints and, especially nauseating, imitation soy sauce made from clippings swept up from hairdressers’ floors, sold for 5 cents per pound and sent to factories that extract from it an amino acid solution. Zhou wrote that fish farmers confessed to pouring so many antibiotics and hormones into their ponds that “they never eat the fish that they farm.”
Although Zhou’s book has been published in 10 countries — it sold 50,000 copies in Japan alone — it is not available in China. After failing to get the book in shops, receiving threats from police and getting beaten up by thugs, Zhou left China in 2008. He now lives in Germany.
Even victims are punished if they complain too loudly. Zhao Lianhai, an advertising executive who led a campaign for safer baby formula after his son developed kidney stones as a result of the melamine-tainted baby formula, was sentenced in November to 2 1/2 years in prison for “inciting social disorder.”