Mystery Meat in Hong Kong

In the few years that I’ve been in Hong Kong there have been many a food scandal coming out of China. Fake eggs, fake meat, fake baby milk (which, tragically, resulted in the deaths of a number of babies) are just but a few examples. Then there was the weird case of exploding watermelons. And if you thought horse meat in lasagna was bad, try the recent discovery a few days ago that a mishmash of rat and fox was being passed off as mutton. Sometimes restaurants get busted for using gutter oil, which though unthinkable is exactly what it sounds like — used oil collected literally from the gutter and re-used or, even worse, packaged and re-sold. Earlier this year KFC had to stop its contracts with chicken farms in the mainland after it was discovered that the chicken was full of antibiotics. There is no shortage of dodgy food from the mainland, and many an expat in Hong Kong refuse to buy local meat, fruits and vegetables as a result.

Here in Hong Kong we of course get almost all of our food from the mainland. One day a friend of mine told me that she had met a guy who works for one of the biggest local supermarkets. He told her that all of the whole chickens that they bring in from China get passed through a metal detector before being put on the shelves. Apparently a customer one day took a whole chicken home, cooked it, and during the process of eating it, found a broken needle. We all know that chickens get injected with growth hormones, but that is enough to put you off of China chicken forever.

So what’s a consumer to do? Spend thousands buying organic free range no-steroid chicken imported from New Zealand? Or just suck it up and eat local?

Here’s the difference between foreign and local chicken —

100% hormone free — $120
Good old local who-knows-what’s-been-injected-into-it chicken — $29

Massive difference, right? If you really have to watch your spending, which one would YOU buy?

And, maybe it makes sense to buy imported stuff to eat at home, but what about eating out? There’s no way that the vegetables and meat that gets served in restaurants have been imported from abroad, from the clean pollution-free magical mountains of a faraway land. So should you not eat out? What is one to do when you live in China? Not eat anything Chinese? And how to do such a thing when almost everything is imported from the mainland?

Something I will have to seriously think about, now that I have a small mouth to feed at home!