China cardboard-buns story called a hoax
By The Associated Press
BEIJING — A freelance reporter for a Beijing television station has been detained for faking a hidden camera report about street vendors who used chemical-soaked cardboard to fill meat buns, local media said Thursday.
The report came amid a spate of real food scares involving toxic fish, tainted pork and egg yolks colored with a cancer-causing dye that have harmed China's reputation as an exporter.
The story, allegedly shot with a hidden camera, was broadcast on Beijing Television and China Central Television last week and created a buzz on the Internet, with people flooding chat rooms with comments expressing shock and disgust.
The state-run Beijing Youth Daily said that the creator of the fake news report, identified only by his surname, Zi, had been detained by police but did not say when.
Zi's footage appeared to show a makeshift kitchen where people made fluffy buns stuffed with 60 percent cardboard that had been softened by a bath of caustic soda and 40 percent fatty pork.
The paper said that in mid-June, Zi brought meat, flour, cardboard and other ingredients to a downtown Beijing neighborhood and had four people make the buns for him while he filmed the process. The report said Zi "gave them the idea" of mincing softened cardboard and adding it to the buns.
The newspaper said Beijing Television had publicly apologized for the fake news report. Also on Wednesday, tests performed on Chinese-made tires like those recalled by the U.S. showed they were safe, Chinese regulators said as officials announced a meeting with the United States over Chinese seafood exports.
Also Wednesday, Philippine authorities said they were testing more Chinese products after withdrawing several candies and cookies from stores because they tested positive for formaldehyde, a harmful embalming chemical.
The five-day meeting between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Chinese food-safety authorities will begin July 31 in Beijing, said Li Yuanping, who heads the import and export safety bureau at the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
The talks aim to ease tensions triggered last month when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it would block Chinese catfish, basa, dace, shrimp and eel, after repeated testing showed contamination with drugs not approved in the United States for farmed seafood.
But I will never look at Beijing paus the same again, if I ever get the chance to get there.