And Finally

It’s no yolk

Shandong man in latest report of hard-boiled horror

Can you tell? It’s fake

Like the proverbial bad smell, stories on China’s mysterious bad eggs just won’t seem to go away.

The latest reports come from the Qilu Evening News, about a man in Shandong who says he discovered fakes in a batch purchased at a local store.

His suspicions grew as he boiled the eggs and three turned “hard as stone”, the newspaper reports.

That may not sound too astounding (hard-boiled eggs are supposed to be hard, after all). But they’re less well known for what happened next. When the Shandong egg-boiler threw his eggs experimentally at the floor, they bounced back up to knee height.

Reports on China’s fake egg industry have featured in the international media before, often with the sense that they must be a hoax rather than a real story.

The objection is usually that counterfeit production can’t make much commercial sense. Surely entrepreneurial types would be better to buy a couple of extra chickens than stock up on a chemical shopping list?

But the Chinese media is more confident that illicit eggs can be sold for profit, especially as a fake can cost as little as Rmb0.05 to make but might be sold for as much as Rmb1 ($0.16). That means that diligent counterfeiters can clear $80 a day – an attractive income in many parts of the country.

This raises the possibility that the practice could be more widespread than imagined. Certainly the Qilu Evening News thinks so, having previously tracked a ‘”man-made egg expert” into deepest Shandong. It picked up the scent via an advert (headlined: “Chicken: You’re Fired”) boasting of successful fake egg technology that had been sold to 70,000 people in more than 20 provinces. “We have a great reputation and excellent economic results in part due to our performance at the Third Annual New Technology and Product Exhibition, where we won the Gold Medal,” readers were assured.

So how are fake eggs made? Producers use two moulds, a larger one for the egg white and a smaller one for the yolk. The whites and yolks are made from a blend of alginic acid, potassium alum, gelatin and calcium chloride. The emulsified yolk is teased into the larger egg white, and the shell is constructed by soaking paraffin wax around the egg and leaving it to dry.

For readers who would like to keep an eye out for ovoid imposters, the advice from website 18dao.com is that man-made eggs have shinier shells and a faint chemical smell. And if you try to fry one, the yolk and the egg white usually melt into one another immediately.


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