China Scrambles To Crack Down On “Fake Eggs”

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Local government authorities from the Guangdong province in China are stepping up food-safety inspections for the region, after a batch of suspect fake chicken eggs were discovered by a local supermarket shopper in its capital city of Guangzhou.

According to the China Daily, almost 3,000 eggs had to be removed from the supermarket, located within the Panyu district of Guangzhou, on Monday after a shopper complained that the ones he had bought were fake.

Two days later, the Shanghai Daily reported that a further eight boxes of suspected artificial eggs had been confiscated by the province’s quality watchdog in the city of Leizhou, after diners at local restaurants complained of eggs with rubber-like yolks.

“They tasted like plastic," said one journalist who had happened to dine in a local hotel restaurant that night.

According to most Chinese reports, the eggs had been barely edible and tasted like a rubber ball. In fact, the Guangzhou Daily also reported that the "yolks" from the eggs could even be bounced more than 40 centimetres off the floor.

Back in Guangzhou city, officials carried spot checks on 14 wholesale markets in the Baiyun district, with samples of eggs then sent to the China National Analytical Centre.

"If it turns out the eggs were artificially made, the supermarket will be fined between 2,000 yuan ($317) and 50,000 yuan," said Liu Yuming, head of the food section at the Panyu administration for industry and commerce.

According to Zhao Qiangzhong, an associate professor from the school of light industry and foods at South China University of Technology, the fake eggs could be made through numerous chemical processes, including using sodium alginate solution to imitate egg whites and the yolk.

Other possible compounds included industrial and commercial chemicals such as alginic acid, calcium chloride and calcium carbonate. Long-term consumption of fake eggs can lead to memory loss or dementia, said experts to the Labour Daily.

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Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang has already called for strict and harsh punishments against any food safety violations, reported the Xinhua news agency, while urging strengthened supervision to ensure food safety.

Li added that China was presently facing a grave situation in ensuring food supplies were kept safe and authorities should take a proactive approach to deter violations.