The Nanfang / Blog

Add This Item to Your Unsafe China Food Lists: Bean Sprouts

Posted: 08/4/2014 8:58 am

poison bean sprouts dongguanThere’s more food that you should avoid as people try to earn a little more money by serving up poisoned food. Zhuhai police announced they have broken up a production ring that made and sold poisonous bean sprouts unsafe for human consumption, reports China News. Police made the bust on July 17, arresting 17 people at 11 locations.

The bean sprouts are said to have been produced using a rootless agent and AB powder. These compounds are not allowed to be used in food products, and are said to cause early maturation in children and change physiology in girls. As well, they are said to be cancerous.

This is the second police raid that has seized unsafe bean sprouts this past month. Thirty tons of bean sprouts were seized in a police raid in Shunde on July 9.

In other food safety news that is more positive, tofu and soy retail products must be packaged in Shenzhen when sold, reports the Shenzhen Evening Report.

Photo: China News


Almost Nothing Left on the Menu at McDonald’s in Beijing

Posted: 07/28/2014 3:06 pm

beijing mcdonalds menu retracted food safety scandal husi foodsMcDonald’s remains open in Beijing these days, but there isn’t much on the menu. Nearly everything has been suspended from sale in the wake of the Husi Food expired meat scandal, reports BJ News. A total of 13 McDonald’s food items are currently not available for sale including all hamburgers, Chicken McNuggets, and chicken wings.

So what’s left, if you need your McDonald’s fix? Filet O’Fish sandwiches, for one. An employee details what else remains on the menu:

Right now, all we have for sale are drinks, ice cream and French fries. You can go next door to our coffee outlet to order cakes and coffee.

A representative for McDonald’s explains that the menu restrictions are temporary and all your favorite burgers will soon return. In the meantime, however, there’s been an unsurprising drop in the number of customers.

Due to the inspections made by government officials that first exposed Husi Food for supplying foreign fast food chains in China with expired meat products, the Shanghai Food and Drug Inspection Bureau has confiscated a total of 144.1 tons of food. This includes 18 tons of Chicken McNuggets, 78.1 tons of smoked meat patties, and 48 tons of beef patties.

On July 27 the parent company of Husi Food, OSI Group, recalled its food products and installed a new team overseeing its China operations.

beijing mcdonalds menu retracted food safety scandal husi foods


Photos: BJ News, People’s Daily


Newspaper: Serving Expired Meat a Problem Throughout China’s Food Industry

Posted: 07/26/2014 12:52 pm

meat counter China’s current food safety scandal involving expired meat products has focused on the Western fast food restaurants that were supplied with the tainted food, something that has led some people to directly accuse Western fast food restaurants of being the problem.

However, allegations have surfaced from the Shandong-based Qilu Evening Report claiming the use of expired meat is endemic throughout all of the Chinese food industry and is not limited to Western fast food restaurants. While there isn’t much conclusive evidence behind these allegations, they remain horrifying all the same.

An industry insider unwilling to reveal his name told the Shandong newspaper reporter why he doesn’t eat meat buns when he goes out:

I never eat meat buns when I’m out, this industry is all the same. Some factories sell expired meat to vendors processed with onions, ginger and garlic so that you can’t tell the meat isn’t any good. This expired meat is sold to vendors at 80% off the normal price. From their perspective, every mao (one tenth of a Chinese dollar) they save is worth it.

Meanwhile, a chef only known by the surname Mao explained that the food service industry has a particular way of dealing with expired meat, or meat that is close to being expired. Mao explained that since this type of meat has a limp flavor, the tainted meat is used in specialty dishes that have a heavier taste, such as Shandong or Sichuan cuisine. Specific examples of dishes include maoxuewang (duck’s blood, meat and tripe in spicy soup), and boiled meat strips because the customer will ask for a heavier mala (spicy) taste that ends up masking the taste of the old meat.

The reporter also alleges that Shandong supermarkets do not necessarily get rid of their stocks of meat at the end of the day. Rather, it’s said that some supermarkets will try to sell meat from the day before by mixing it in with the current day’s batch.

Any reprieve by purchasing imported meat is also not a vivable solution, according to the report, which says that meat products can be put into cold storage for a period of up to two years.


Photos: Sina


Avoid Cancer By Passing On These Famous Chinese Dishes

Posted: 07/23/2014 9:04 am

lamb skewersCancer: there’s good news, and there’s bad news.

The good news is that the People’s Daily reports that a whopping 60 percent of all cancer is preventable in China. The report said a balanced diet is the key to prevention, adding that 43.3 percent of all cancerous tumors in Chinese patients grow in the digestive tract.

The report states:

  • inadequate fruit consumption causes 13 percent of cancer deaths
  • inadequate vegetable consumption causes 3.6 percent of cancer deaths
  • inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption combined causes 14 percent of stomach cancer deaths

And yet, the price of a healthy lifestyle comes at a heavy cost.

The bad news is that the Tumor Department of the Academy of Chinese Medical Science says there are specific foods that one should leave out of one’s diet. They are:

  1. Pickled foods like salted vegetables, salted fish
  2. Barbecued foods like chuanr (lamb kebabs), roast meat, roast duck, roast goose, and roast pork
  3. Smoked foods like smoked tofu, smoked eggs, and smoked fish
  4. Deep-fried foods
  5. Fermented foods like thousand year eggs and stinky tofu
  6. Leftover foods and reboiled water

New expats to China may be unfamiliar with some of these while seasoned expats may have already come to dislike some of them. But long-term expats will immediately see the significance of this list: it represents many of China’s most famous culinary accomplishments.

Your diet may be very different from a local Chinese who doesn’t go for Tex-Mex on the weekends, or indulges in a hamburger at the sports bar after work. But by living long-term in China, you start to appreciate the roots of Chinese cuisine. You see how many Chinese foods belong to the categories of pickled, barbecued, deep-fried, fermented, and the like.

A wonderful eye-opener to Chinese cuisine is the popular documentary “A Bite of China” *. It’s great to see people passionate about the preparation of food, but one thing the documentary does is explain all the wonderful things that Chinese civilization has created through fermentation. A brief list of fermented items include:

beef bitter melon black bean

  • anything with black bean sauce
  • anything with doubanjiang, a spicy, salty paste
  • soy sauce
  • stinky tofu
  • fermented bean curd
  • fermented bean paste
  • fermented fish
  • rice vinegar
  • Chinese pickles
  • thousand year-old eggs
  • rice wine
  • baijiu

This list and one encapsulating all of the Chinese foods that are pickled, roasted, deep-fried and smoked makes us worry if there’s any fun and delicious Chinese foods left that are safe to eat.

Based upon what the Academy suggests, we’d think that eating a nice salad may be the way to go, but uncooked foods are a rarity in China, a place where most everything gets cooked in a wok.

spring rolls

The Academy advises people to mainly concentrate their diets upon staple foods like rice, then focus upon fruits and vegetables with smaller portions of meat. However, what sounds like a good lifestyle choice is interrupting a patriotic stomach’s need for lamb skewers and deep-fried spring rolls.

We can only hope there is a mutual compromise available between a love for country and a love for food.



* The first season is much, much better than the second season, you’ve been warned.

Photo: just putzingtummy tales, Serious Eats, shinshin foods, Flickr


More Poisonous Food For Sale in China: This Time It’s Bean Sprouts

Posted: 07/17/2014 10:04 am
bean sprout fake additives

Two men load a bucket of poisonous bean sprouts onto a van.

Watch out for spring rolls with bean sprout fillings! Forty workshops producing bean sprouts with banned additives were busted in Shunde, Guangdong. According to local police, the workshops were responsible for selling over 30 tons of poisonous bean sprouts to various markets in Shunde and Zhongshan.

Thirty-seven tons of fully-grown bean sprouts and 16 tons of half-grown bean sprouts were seized during a police raid on July 9, reported the Guangzhou Daily. 48 people were arrested

Poisonous bean sprouts are thicker, and have fewer roots and translucent white colour.

Some of the banned additives used include ABP or 6-benzylaminopurine. These chemicals can be used to increase the thickness of bean sprouts and help them grow, thus shortening their natural growth cycle.

Consuming additive-laced bean sprouts can cause dizziness, headaches, uraemia and even cancer, said the report said.

Most of the busted workshops are family-operated. The sprouts are grown in plastic buckets in poor conditions. The smell of ammonia is constant at the workshops, the report said.

The police said there are several methods to identify poisonous bean sprouts. Additive-laced bean sprouts exhibit a greyish-white color and are thicker than natural ones, and have relatively fewer roots. In addition, water normally leaks out when a “fake” bean spout snaps in half.


Photos: Nandu,


Guangdong to License Streetside Food Vendors

Posted: 07/16/2014 10:47 pm

food vendorLegislation is being proposed in Guangdong Province to give legal rights to streetside food vendors that are currently unlicensed, reports Shanghai Daily. Under the new guidelines, streetside food vendors will be allowed to operate their businesses in specific areas at designated times.

While vendors will be allowed to apply for a license free of charge, it will be the government that will determine where and when they can do business.

READ: Trial System to License Guangdong Street Peddlers
Will Make Street Food “Safer”

Street vendors operating outside authorized zones and times will still be breaking the law. Furthermore, the new legislation only covers street vendors that sell food.

China’s current laws do not cover streetside food vendors because their businesses are deemed to be too small. Besides not being legally recognized, these food vendors are unregulated and aren’t inspected by any public health authority.

Conflicts between street vendors and chengguan, known as the municipal authority that enforces laws against the vendors, are a regular occurrence.

food vendor


Photo: BJCG, hinnews


Throw In Some Garlic, and Locusts Are A Hot Meal Ticket in Guangdong

Posted: 06/25/2014 6:27 pm

locust farm guangdong jiangmen farmer

The term “locust” is one of the unfortunate things to emerge from years of strife between Hong Kong and mainland China. It is used by Hong Kongers to describe the hive mentality of mainlanders who consume Hong Kong’s resources – like infant milk powder, medicines, and other goods – without remorse. But while the term has a negative connotation for some, others believe locusts bring many benefits — especially when eaten.

We told you back in April about a Guangzhou farmer named Xie Bozhen who raises locusts for food, and it looks like it’s catching on with others, too.

READ: Guangzhou Man Farms 7 Million Locusts for Food

Like Xie, several farmers in Heshan near Jiangmen, Guangdong, have decided to turn the tables on pestilence and raise the insects on the farms where they had previously been seen as a nuisance.

Li Bo, 60, is one such farmer. Having raised pigs for 30 years, Li made the switch to locusts after discovering they are more cost effective than pigs. Every year, Li raises about a million locusts for consumption, reports Southern Metropolis Daily.

locust farm guangdong jiangmen farmer

Li is able to raise four to five crops a year in three tents. Each tent can produce 500 kg of locusts annually, in which each kilo is made up of 600 locusts. Annually, he produces about 300,000 of the edible insects.

The harvest, if it can be called that, is sold to Guangzhou businesses for RMB 100-200 per kilogram.

READ: Is the Cantonese Tradition of Eating Bugs Set to
Take Off Around the World?

If you’ve ever wondered what a locust eats when it isn’t decimating the fields of poor farmers, it turns out they enjoy sweet-flavored foods. Their main food is “elephant grass”, but they will eat rye during the winter.

As witnessed by the Southern Metropolis reporter, tens of thousands of locusts took flight and wildly descended upon the oatmeal Li scattered around when he went into feed them. It’s a metaphor that’s been waiting too long to be made.

locust farm guangdong jiangmen farmer

Li Haiwen is the farmer credited with starting the local craze of raising locusts after having gotten the idea by watching TV. Li says locusts are a real treat:

Locusts are insects that are high in protein, and are more nutritious than bee chrysalis. They are eaten by frying, have a fragrant scent, and are delicious.

The Nanfang suggested last year that the Cantonese culinary tradition of eating insects may be catching on, and it looks like Li and his fellow locust farmers have found their market. If you’re still not convinced why you shouldn’t be eating insects, here’s a recent instructional video from AsapScience:

Now that you’ve been properly overwhelmed with science, here’s how to prepare an adult locust for dinner:

  1. Remove their wings; boil them in water to remove their excrement, and then deep fry them.
  2. Add hot peppers, scallions and garlic with a bit of salt.
  3. Enjoy.

locust farm guangdong jiangmen farmerPhotos: Southern Metropolis Daily


Hot Pot Hot Pockets? Nestle To Experiment With New Flavors at Dongguan R&D Center

Posted: 06/19/2014 9:30 am

nescafe coffeeNestle has just opened its third research and development center in China to develop new flavors and products, reports PandCT.

The snack conglomerate is opening the center as a joint-venture partner with Hsu Fu Chi, a Chinese confectionery and snack manufacturer, in order to further research the science of “confectionery and ice cream”.

As Nestle already has some 8,000 brands of food in its coffers, we must ask the obvious question: what new flavors could we possibly expect from this new R&D center?

Since localization in China requires a harmonious balance of featured American product with Chinese characteristics, here’s a look at what may soon be conjured up by the confectionery wizards based on other East-West food product hybrids currently on sale in China.

Pepsi-Chicken Chips

lays chickenpepsi chips

People in China may be unaware of “tailgate parties”, but that doesn’t stop locals from making some delicious chicken wings. One of these recipes involves using cola in order to caramelize the wings, and it isn’t that strange once you’ve tried it… at least in the original form.

Possible Nestle R&D suggestions:

  • Pepsi-Chicken Cheerios breakfast cereal
  • Pepsi-Chicken Movenpick ice cream
  • Pepsi-Chicken Nesquik

Numb and Spicy Hot Pot Chips

lays hotpot chips

There are a lot of new flavor variations on potato chips that include blueberry, cucumber, and shrimp, so we thought we’d include this other one.

Hot pot is a popular choice for dining out in China, and the communal nature of a group huddled around a single stove is the same as that when sharing a single bag of chips, we’re sure.

Possible Nestle R&D suggestions:

  • Hot Pot Hot Pockets (please make this a reality, if just for the alliteration)

Varied Oreo Cookie Flavors

oreas junk food familymart

The Chinese palate is acclimated to a different set of tastes from that of a North American consumer, and part of that has to do with the great variety of fruits that grow in Asia. We can see a variety of Oreo flavors here, so there’s no reason to believe the localization process couldn’t go further.

Possible Nestle R&D suggestions:

  • Mango Aero chocolate bars
  • Green Tea Butterfingers
  • Durian Kit-Kat bar
  • Jujube Smarties
  • Lychee Libby’s Tea

Along with the Nescafe Coffee Center built last year in Yunnan, it looks like the science of snacks and refreshment is well-looked after in China at the moment.

Photos: IB Times, the Nanfang, gunaxin, China Daily


Bare Footed Workers Caught Stomping On Noodles Destined For The Dinner Table

Posted: 06/10/2014 6:16 pm

feet vermicelli dongguan factoryI’m no foodie, but I’m told texture is an important part to the experience of enjoying food. The way food feels in your mouth as you whimsically savor each bite that yields a tantalizing morsel.

But how food gets that certain je ne sais quoi might not be as tantalizing as the taste.

READ: 1/3 of Shenzhen Markets Selling Contaminated Noodles

A netizen called “Incapable of Seeing Straight” has posted pictures online of a Dongguan workshop during the process of making rice vermicelli noodles. The pictures depict many workers surrounded by a lot of vermicelli—so much vermicelli, in fact, that there is no room to put it. Except on the floor. Where the workers are standing. With their bare feet.

And we know that these workers are working hard because we see one of them. Sleeping. On the raw rice noodles/bed of springy noodles.dongguan feet vermicelli

On the afternoon of June 9, the Dongguan Office of Food Inspection investigated the case and identified the Daojiao Tongcheng Rice Product Factory of Daojiao County as being the place where the photos were taken. The pictures were determined to have been taken before Spring Festival 2014. The factory says all the workers in the photos are now gone.

RELATED: 40 Jailed in 3 Years For Food Safety Violations in Dongguan

As a result of the investigation, the Daojiao Tongcheng Rice Product Factory has been ordered to close down and to reassess its food production procedures, reports Yangcheng Evening Report.

And if you’re wondering if you may have eaten some of these so-called “stinky feet vermicelli noodles”, well, you may have. There are 15 Daojiao vermicelli factories in Guangdong Province that have a total daily production of 800-1,200 tons of vermicelli noodles.

Daojiao rice noodles make up 80% of all vermicelli sales in the Pearl River Delta.

We should add that barefoot workers are probably a step up from workers wearing shoes into the workroom, but just barely.

feet vermicelli dongguan factoryfeet vermicelli dongguan factorydongguan feet vermicellifeet vermicelli dongguan factoryRelated:

Photos: cfqn, Caixin via Weibo


Top 10 Things To Buy Now that FamilyMart has Opened in Shenzhen

Posted: 05/22/2014 4:33 pm

familymartFor being a hushed secret whispered between expats, Shenzhen kicks ass. It’s rated as one of the best places to live in China as well as being one of the cities in China with the cleanest air. It’s right next to Hong Kong, the weather is nice (if humid and wet), and best of all, it isn’t Beijing or Shanghai.

As more proof of Shenzhen’s ascension to a metropolis of kickassery, the city has now become that much more convenient. Last week, eight FamilyMart stores opened in Shenzhen with further locations to come in Dongguan by the end of this year.

To celebrate this great news, we’re going to provide a run-down of the ten most essential items you’ll be purchasing from FamilyMart—because let’s face it, the one time you really need a FamilyMart is at 3am when you’ve had too much to drink and badly need food.

1. Western Junk Food Knock-Offs

oreas junk food familymartWhen looking for a little sugar fix, you’ll be attracted to the brands that you know and trust (or, at least their logos if you can’t read Chinese). However, there’s something different about it; something’s a little off. It’s not the junk food you’ve become so familiar with…

2. Fruit Sandwichfruit sandwich

If you’re still not over your culture shock, you’re probably going to stick with food you’re familiar with, like the sandwich. How hard can that be to screw up? It’s two slices of bread and some cut fruit, just like your mom used to make.

3. Tea Eggstea egg familymart

And we don’t mean the “virgin boy” type. Tea eggs are always a good purchase because no matter your feelings on how they taste, and no matter the time of day, there are always tea eggs for sale at a convenience store. It’s like as though it’s used as a type of currency a la “take an egg, leave an egg”.

4. Instant Noodlesinstant noodles familymart

There’s a reason why there is usually an entire aisle dedicated to instant noodles, and it isn’t because there is a fundamental difference between any of them. No, the instant noodle is the one reliable food that you can’t screw up, but it does need one thing…

5. Pre-Packaged Chicken Feetchicken feet familymart

No, you don’t make a wish on them like you do on a monkey’s paw. You may not be partial to the delicacy of chicken feet, but you will learn to be more culturally sensitive at three in the morning when you’re ravenously hungry and lack your usual ethnocentric tendencies. You can’t just eat instant noodles on their own, you know.

6. Over-the-Counter Baijiubaijiu familymart

Sure, there’s usually beer available at a convenience store in China, but you want to continue the party, not have a refreshing beverage to cool down. Browse the baijiu section and pick the bottle that looks like it can strip paint off a wall, and you’re set to go.

7. Aspirinaspirin familymart

For tomorrow morning. Buy it now, or wait until you’re dizzy and nauseous.  But, you’ll also be needing…

8. Bottled Waterbottled water familymart

In this day and age, a bottle of drinking water is as necessary as a smartphone. Thirty years ago, who’d have thought that we’d be paying for water and be using portable phones to do everything but make calls?

9. Pepto Bismolpepto bismol family mart

If FamilyMart doesn’t sell this, then what good is it?

10. Condomscondoms familymart

You may need these, perhaps. One day in the future.

With the arrival of FamilyMart, Shenzhen will join Guangzhou as places where you can buy whatever you need at every hour of the day in full disregard of the daily sleep cycles our sad, non-partying forefathers were burdened with.

Thank you, FamilyMart. You’re Japan’s greatest present to China.

Photos: the Beijinger, Daxue Consulting, ChinaDaily, GiantBomb, traveling around the world,, pzr services, mousetourtravels,, xinhua, Bloomberg  

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