Fake pig ears latest China food scandal: report
SHANGHAI, China (AFP) - Police in China are investigating after the discovery of a batch of "fake" pigs' ears reportedly made from gelatin, state media said Wednesday, in yet another food safety problem to hit the country.
The bogus ears were discovered in a market in Ganzhou city in the eastern province of Jiangxi in late March after a customer complained of a strange smell when cooking them, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported.
Food safety officials tested the "ears" and found they had been made from gelatin and the chemical sodium oleate, commonly used in the production of soap.
China's government has repeatedly vowed to improve food safety as people grow increasingly alarmed about the quality of what they eat, but scandals still occur due to weak enforcement and unscrupulous business practices.
Photos circulating online showed local officials examining a box of the fake ears, which appeared light-brown in color with a plastic-like texture.
The China Daily quoted an expert as giving a sure-fire method for telling real ears -- a popular delicacy -- from fake, saying the genuine article should have hair and small blood vessels.
The Jiangxi provincial health department could not be reached for comment on the latest case.
Pigs' ears are a common ingredient in China. One recipe from the northern province of Shanxi containing them is called "cengcengcui", which literally means "layer upon layer of crunch."
The investigation into the fake ears comes as authorities launched a probe into vegetable sellers in the eastern province of Shandong for spraying cabbages with harmful formaldehyde to keep them fresh.
Last year authorities arrested more than 30 people over the sale of cooking oil made from leftovers scooped out of gutters.
And in 2008, milk was at the centre of one of China's biggest food safety scandals when the industrial chemical melamine was found to have been illegally added to dairy products to give the appearance of higher protein content. - Agence France-Presse