At this point a more shocking article would be “8 foods in China that are actually safe to eat.” But here are 8 foods to avoid, according to the Epoch Times.
No brainer here. Milk in China seems to have the same reputation as anthrax everywhere else. Epoch Times advises us to avoid anything besides pure, fresh milk (aka stick with the imported stuff). And avoid Ultra High Temperature processed milk. Says Epoch: “While the high temperature processing kills bacteria, it also destroys nutrients and preservatives are also added. Flavoring and thickening agents are used to make milk taste better.”
Same applies to Chinese yogurt, which has been found to contain leather, and apparently serves as a better contraceptive than food.
You may not be “strong to the finish just because you eat your spinach” here, and it’s not just because your Sichuan green beans are lubed in enough oil to power a Buick. Says Epoch: “Overuse of pesticide is very common in China. A common misconception is that pesticides on vegetables can be washed off. But the most commonly used organic phosphorus pesticide is not water soluble; it sticks to the leaves like oil, and is very hard to wash off.”
Couple this with the fact that many of these veggies are grown in toxic soil, and yeah, it kind of cancels out all those nutritional perks your parents used to waterboard you with.
One way to avoid volatile veggies is to buy certified organic produced (more on that here), or eat at restaurants that source from a reputable organic purveyor.
Apparently those sparklingly fresh fish you see splashing about at Chinese fish markets aren’t all that safe. It’s a common practice for vendors to add the carcinogenic industrial dye, Malachite Green (MG), to keep fish alive for longer. In fact, this may be the one instance where frozen fish sticks are the healthier alternative. Then again, who knows what they put in those.
Frogs and eels
Unfortunately, frogs and eels aren’t an exception to the fish rule (unfortunate, since we at Shanghaiist love both). Eels are fed hormones to speed their growth (like practically every other animal), and frogs consume large quantities of pesticides. Three years ago, bullfrogs at Shanghai’s Tongchuan Fish Market were found to have traces of cholera bacteria as well. If you wan’t to get your amphibian fix without getting poisoned, we’d recommend going for Zhujiajiao’s wild-caught toads, best eaten March-April. Yeah, the one time toad’s less deadly than frog.
Everyone knows you’re playing gastrointestinal Russian Roulette when you eat the grilled oysters on Shouning Lu. However, the bigger issue is heavy metals like mercury, nickel, and chromium, which are present in the mud and sand where they live. Unfortunately, the only way to completely avoid them is by paying premium prices for raw imports at high-end spots like the Plump Oyster in Shanghai.
According to Epoch, smoked meats like sausages often contain excessive nitrate, and artificial coloring agents to enhance appearance. Not that their non-smoked counterparts are sparkling.
This one’s a bit vague, but we assume they’re primarily talking about low to mid-level Chinese restaurants. Epoch says:
There are many issues with seafood served at restaurants. One is the common practice of using Formalin on seafood to improve its look and taste.
Braised pork is another dish to avoid in restaurants. Although it often tastes and looks much better than home made braised pork, the chemical Ethylmaltol is frequently used to give the meat a shiny, dark red color and special flavor.
We call bullshit on additives making restaurant pork taste better than if it were home-braised. In fact, the best places in Shanghai for braised pork are homestyle joints like Jesse Restaurant and Chun. Stick to these whenever you get a hankering for Shanghainese and you’ll be alright.
From gutter oil to cat meat, roadside vendors take most of the heat for Chinese food scandals. However, as we’ve seen, horrendous food scandals infiltrate just about every level of the food industry. So your gutter-oil-glazed cat kebab is probably not much worse than anything you get at most mid-level hotpot restaurants, or multinational giants like KFC.