On March 14, an illegal meat processing plant in Nanjing was found to have pig trotters immersed in a hydrogen peroxide solution.
The Yangzi Evening Paper reported (via Xinhua):
Yesterday afternoon around 1 pm, Yangzi Evening Paper reporters arrived in the Guandong Paotai community after receiving a tip. Here there is a building that is going to be torn down. … Entering through a small door, walking through a narrow alleyway into a residential courtyard, around a few bends, a strange smell assaults the nose. Entering a door, there are unopened boxes of pig trotters stacked against a wall. On the label, you can see they were exported from France for sale in China. Law enforcement officials brought out blue plastic barrels. On the barrel there was a label that said “industrial standard hydrogen peroxide 27.5%”. Inhaling or consuming hydrogen peroxide in food can damage the human body or even cause cancer.
The pig trotters were being treated in hydrogen peroxide to make them more appealing. Just like hydrogen peroxide is used to remove blood stains in fabrics, it can work with pig trotters to enhance their appearance and bleach the trotters. After the inspection, the local security force (chengguan – 城管) called on some workers to help remove the illegal supplies.
The operator, who was from Jiangxi, cried when she was questioned by the police:
Law enforcement asked her, why did you use hydrogen peroxide to soak good pig trotters? She said so that they could sell better. Then they asked her, how much do you sell per day and at what markets, and she started crying.
According to accounting records found on site, she sold from a hundred to a few hundred pounds of trotters per day.
Reporters asked the landlord, who had been renting the space to the operator for about a year, if she knew about it, but she pretended not to hear.
Reporters asked residents who rented space nearby, but almost all of them shook their head. Some said, “We just moved in. We didn’t know.” The reporter found the landlord, a middle-aged lady. She said, “I don’t often come here, so I didn’t realize.” Pressing her, [I asked] how long have they been processing pig trotters? She replied: a year or so. The reporter asked, you didn’t know what she was submerging the pig trotters in? The landlord said: “Sorry, My ear’s hearing is not so good.” The reporter asked again, and she again said her hearing was bad.
Not only was the operator using chemicals not suitable for consumption, she was also operating the processing business illegally with no license. According to the Yangzi Evening Paper, there are not concrete provisions for how to punish operators in this case.
“Food safety department officials said they are mainly concerned with disposal in this kind of event, and their office has no enforcement powers,” the article said, but the relevant authorities are considering what kind of punishment would be suitable and applicable.