10 bizarre food scams in China

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With over 1.3 billion mouths to feed, it’s no wonder that China has to look for other means of producing food. If there’s a demand, there should be a supply

With over 1.3 billion mouths to feed, it’s no wonder that China has to look for other means of producing food. If there’s a demand, there should be a supply.

Unfortunately, many companies see a business opportunity in the demand to feed these 1.3 billion, and not all of them benevolent. And if there’s one thing China does well, it is to counterfeit—including food.

Here are 10 food scams that China produces.

1. Plastic rice

10 Bizarre Food Scams In China

It’s no secret that Asians love rice, and if you’re going to sell a counterfeit product, you’d be sure that rice would generate profit. Called plastic rice, this impostor is made from potatoes, sweet potatoes, and synthetic resin molded into the shape of real rice. Consuming three bowls of plastic rice is equivalent to eating one bag of vinyl or one plastic bag, according to Korea Times.

2. Rat Mutton

10 Bizarre Food Scams In China

Another popular scheme in China is passing off other meats such as rat, mink, and fox as premium mutton. This scheme is widely practiced that the police arrested more than 900 people and seized about 20,000 tons of this meat—all within three months, a report by the Guardian said.

In fact one man in China has earned more than $1.4 million from selling fox, rat, and mink meat mixed with nitrate, gelatin, and carmine. The difference between authentic and fake mutton isn’t noticeable at first glance. But while the white and red parts of fake mutton separate after getting thawed, torn by hand, or boiled, while the real mutton meat don’t.

3. Chemical tofu

10 Bizarre Food Scams In China

A factory worker confessed that their fake tofu is a combination of soy protein, flour, monosodium glutamate, pigment, ice; and that that they sold it under the name of a company who produces real tofu.

This might not seem that bad, but other counterfeit tofu are made with rongalite, a notorious bleaching agent and carcinogenic, said a Reuters report. The chemical reportedly makes the tofu chewier and brighter.

If you think water can't be faked, think again. Find out how on the next page

4. Cardboard bun

10 Bizarre Food Scams In China

Cardboard buns are made of exactly just that—cardboard, and for the appearance of authenticity, some pork seasoning. An investigation carried out by CTV showed how these buns are made. The cardboard is mixed with caustic soda—a chemical used to produce soap and paper—cut, and then mixed with pork and flavorings.

Although it was reportedly a hoax, with the filmmaker having been arrested, it’s still terrifying to know that it could be done.

5. Contaminated water

10 Bizarre Food Scams In China

Water is the source from which life springs, but not when it’s contaminated. Police have recently discovered the existence of fake water being sold in China. The bottles are packaged with quality standard seals, but they contain contaminated tap water infested with E. coli and other harmful fungi.

At least 100 million of these contaminated water are sold every year, reveals a Time report, with their sellers raking more than 1 billion yuan (about $120 million).

6. Rotten Rice Noodle

10 Bizarre Food Scams In China

Not only are these counterfeit noodles made from rotten, stale, and moldy grains—typically used to feed animals—they also contain harmful chemicals such as sulfur dioxide, which could cause cancer.

An Independent report said that manufacturers of these substandard noodles bleached spoiled rice and mixed it with additives to get triple the yield.

On the next page, read why wine is the biggest counterfeit issue in China

7. Clenbuterol-Laced Pork

10 Bizarre Food Scams In China

Clenbuterol, used first in the 1980s, is an animal feed additive that burns animal fat. It was banned in 2002 because of health risks to humans, including sickness, heart problems, unnecessary sweating, and dizziness.

Despite its dangers, however, Clenbuterol is still being fed by meat-processing companies to their pigs, because leaner pork brings in more money.

8. Fake wine

10 Bizarre Food Scams In China

One of the biggest counterfeit issue in China, fake wines are estimated to comprise at least 50% of wines in the market today. People from China’s wine industry also believe that 90% of premium wines are fake.

The way the scam operates is that makers of counterfeit wine would use the original name, label, and design of expensive brands, and then refill them with cheap wine.

Yahoo! reported that big hotels and establishments in China now break empty bottles of wine to prevent them from being used again.

9. Yangcheng Hairy Crabs

10 Bizarre Food Scams In China

It is one of the most luxurious you could eat in China, and that’s because they only come from the Yangcheng Lake. But many people are tying to profit off of this business by selling crab: some take water from Yangcheng Lake and put different crabs in it before selling them, while others use chemicals to give other crabs the appearance of the real thing.

The Nan Fang said that only 1 in every 300 crabs sold is real. Annually, less than 3000 tons of authentic Yangchen crabs are produced, but at least 100,000 are sold.

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