The latest food scandal to hit the shelves of a grocery store near you is cancer-causing tofu sticks (腐竹) produced in Shanghai.
While many people think of tofu as a healthy snack alternative, these sticks are produced using industrial bleach to make the sticks chewier as well as detergent-grade borax to extend the tofu’s expiration date.
Both chemicals release formaldehyde during the production process — a chemical not only used to embalm corpses, but also known to cause headaches, fatigue, and vomiting, as well as drastically increasing cancer risk when consumed.
96 people have been detained by police across three provinces in connection with the tofu’s production and over 43 tons of tainted tofu valued at 22 million RMB was confiscated.
The company’s name responsible for producing most of the tofu is “闽乐豆制品公司” or “Minle Bean Products Company.”
Police have released three tips to help people avoid tainted tofu:
Police remind the public, “sight, smell, taste,” are three measures to identify if the tofu is good or bad.
First, sight: Bright colors are bad — The addition of formaldehyde causes a chemical reaction making the skin very thin. Real products have very thick skin, and the color is subdued.
Second, smell: Bad quality goods have a harsh, pungent smell. Regular products smell like bean curd.
Third, taste: Bad quality goods taste delicious, and are quite chewy, due to the addition of chemicals. Soaking bad quality goods in water does not impact its flexibility or toughness and it will not rot. Real products will rot in water and eventually turn to dregs.
China’s vegetarians were probably feeling pretty high and mighty, given most of China’s food scandals up until now seemed to revolve around meat. However, as this latest development proves, China’s food industry is an equal opportunity offender!