Washington Post: by Audra Ang; Friday, July 13, 2007; Page D05 - Associated Press
BEIJING, July 12 -- A system to monitor food safety will go into effect during test events for the 2008 Beijing Olympics next month, a Chinese government watchdog announced Thursday, even as a TV station aired an undercover investigation showing how shredded cardboard was used as a filling in steamed buns.
The discovery of the tainted buns highlights China's continuing problems with food safety despite government efforts to improve the situation. Countless small, often illegally run operations across the country cut corners using inexpensive ingredients or unsavory substitutes.
A hidden camera followed the man into a ramshackle building where steamers were filled with the fluffy white buns, called baozi, traditionally stuffed with minced pork.
It showed how cardboard was first soaked to a pulp in a plastic basin of caustic soda -- a chemical base commonly used in manufacturing paper and soap -- then chopped into tiny morsels with a cleaver. Fatty pork and powdered seasoning were stirred in as flavoring and the concoction was stuffed into the buns.
"It fools the average person," says the bun maker, whose face was not shown. "I don't eat them myself."
Confidence in the safety of Chinese exports has severely waned internationally, as the list of products found tainted with dangerous levels of toxins and chemicals grows longer by the day. (more)