The ethics of the Chinese food industry are again in the spotlight with news that most of the shark fins used in one of the nation’s most famous dishes are in fact fake, and poisonous as well.
According to reports from Xinhua, authorities in Zhejiang province conducted tests on shark fins circulating there.
They announced that of 82 sampled “shark fins,” 79 were actually just hardened lumps of gelatin.
Even industry sources were quoted as admitting that “40% of the shark fins being sold in China are fake.”
Scientific tests easily reveal fake fins, which contain no shark DNA, lack the structure of real shark fins, and dissolve to nothing rapidly in hot water.
Most are apparently made domestically in Guangzhou and have been found to contain carcinogenic chemicals as well.
Shark fins are a popular and expensive ingredient in Chinese cuisine, but it is not hard to see why there are so many fakes circulating – one paper reported that fake fins were being supplied to restaurants for a few tens of yuan for a kilo, whilst patrons were paying 500-1000 yuan a serving.
Japanese were also quick to notice many of the fins even go so far as to masquerade as being Japanese, bearing the “Asahi” brand:
The findings may yet be welcomed by some – with China the main market for shark fins, the propensity of Chinese merchants to ruthlessly dupe their countrymen in a variety of deadly and disgusting ways may be the only thing protecting sharks from losing their fins in even greater numbers.