Just as official Chinese media were questioning the validity of stories surrounding consumer allegations of Chinese pork buns stuffed with paper, one man, while visiting Qufu City in China's Shandong Province, claims to have personally consumed such an item. Meanwhile, a man on another website confessed to making and selling these paper stuffed food products.
On July 23, a university professor posted an entry on China's well-known online forum bbs.book.sina.com.cn revealing that he had eaten pork buns stuffed with paper on a sight seeing in Shandong's Qufu on July 20.
“I didn't feel or smell anything strange when I was eating it,” said the professor. “But afterwards I had a strange aftertaste, sort of like fiber. Later when I threw up, I could clearly tell it was paper and fiber. It felt just like it.”
“I am a university teacher in Shanghai,” the professor recounted in his Internet posting. “Last week I took a trip to Shandong with my family. We went to Jinan City and then Taishan Mountain; the last stop was Qufu. We arrived in Qufu on the evening of July 20 and stayed in a hotel near the bus station (I don't remember the name of the hotel clearly now, it might be called Guotie Hotel or Guodao Hotel). Anyway, we arrived at the hotel by bus from Taishan Mountain. This hotel is only a five minute walk from the Confucian Temple. You turn right from the hotel and the bus station is next to it.”
“On the morning of July 21, my family and I went to a small restaurant across the street to have breakfast. This small restaurant boasted that served 'Authentic Nanjing Buns,' 2.5 yuan (US$.33) for a steamed buns and dumplings. The owner of this small restaurant is a woman who claims to be from Wuhu City in Zhejiang Province and has lived in northern China for 20 years. After we ate the buns, we went to the Confucian Temple. My stomach was not feeling well and I had the taste and feel of fiber in my mouth. All of a sudden I recalled the news I had read on Internet about people stuffing their buns with paper. I asked my wife how she was feeling and she said that she was also experiencing a similar feeling—there was a feeling of having something in her mouth other than pork. I felt terribly nauseous and I threw up after I drank some water. I found scraps of paper in the stuff that I just threw up,” said the professor.
“How horrible this is! The newspaper claimed that the paper stuffed pork buns story was false but I personally experienced it, right here in Qufu of Shandong, which is the hometown of Confucius—the greatest ancient Chinese sage. This is a place that is known as a land of courtesy and propriety for thousands of years, said the professor.”
At nearly the same time, a writer calling himself Li Huaqiang also posted an article on the Website www.boxun.com on July 21, confessing that he once made paper stuffed pork buns in his own restaurant. He described the procedure in detail. “Soak the newspaper in oil, heat it up, then dry the newspaper to become crispy and hard and then mix it in with the rest of the stuffing,” he explained. “Later I added vegetables into the mix and combined them together. The final result is greatly improved through this procedure. After playing with and adjusting factors such as temperature, time, meat essence and sauce, etc., I was able to produce paper stuffed pork buns.”
Upon realizing what his son was up to, Li's peasant father made sure he would no longer serve these to customers. Li added that he did not invent this recipe. “Everyone has their own way of making it, and it is not a secret anymore,” said Li. “Three restaurants near my home are all serving 'paper stuffed pork buns.'”
The procedure for making this unsavory food item was expressed in detail on Beijing TV's program “Transparency.” The program explained how one would soak cardboard boxes in a large steel bowl, adding industrial caustic soda to fade and break down the cardboard. After breaking the partially dissolved cardboard into pieces, it was then mixed it into pork stuffing with meat essence to give the final product the look and taste of real pork. Although the method described varied somewhat from Li's recipe, the result was basically the same.
Although Beijing authorities continue to assert that such stories are false, they removed the “Transparency” program's producer and two additional employees from office. For the scores of Chinese people who have suffered from fake and poisoned food in the last few months, news of the paper stuffed pork buns isn't hard to swallow.