“Muddy" Pepper Sold in China
has ignited a public debate over food standards in the country. Last
week, state-run media reported fake peppercorns were being sold in
Guangdong province. The peppercorns appeared fragile, and would
dissolve in water. Upon closer inspection, a shopper discovered the
peppercorns were made of mud.
When a reporter asked a merchant about this, the merchant said, “This
isn’t poisonous. No one would die from eating it. There’s nothing to be
A flurry of online comments followed. Many satirically hailed the
merchant as “ethical” because she was kind enough not to sell food that
would kill people.
Other, more sobering comments said such behavior indicates a new low
for China’s food standards. A spate of toxic food has been discovered
in recent years, many—like recycled sewer oil and clenbuterol in pork
are highly dangerous to consumers.