Monday, July 16, 2007

China Talking Safety, but That Filling Is Cardboard

China's culture of corruption won't change overnight just because we want them to. Their way of solving problems is to decapitate one or two people without really having to go at the root of the problem.

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.

In the report aired Wednesday night, China Central Television showed a shirtless, shorts-clad bun maker in Beijing using cardboard picked up off the street to stuff his steamed buns.

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)

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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