Vendors in Shenzhen City Flavor Tofu with Feces

July 20, 2007 Updated: July 20, 2007

TAIPEI—Close to a dozen manufacturers of “smelly tofu” (a popular snack food with a distinct flavor gained from the fermentation process) in Shenzhen City, China, are alleged to marinate their products with feces to enhance the smell. They are said to use feces on their products in the final step of the processing.

This news was posted on a Chinese website, “PPstream”, with the Hong Kong based newspaper, Takungpao, also reporting on it.

According to the report, there are over 50 factories in Shenzhen City producing over 2,300 lbs of “smelly tofu” a day. Instead of the traditional method, some manufacturers had dyed their tofu to a dark purple color with an unknown black powder. They would then dry them and marinate the products in buckets filled with black solution.

The black solution is from the fermentation of snail meat, rancid food and maggot-ridden dead flies, so there is a pungent smell. If the smell isn't pungent enough, it is reported that liquefied feces are added.

In Nanshan District, Shenzhen City, there are a dozen “smelly tofu” factories/homes located back to back in a lane about 160ft long. These are all family-run factories. According to the report, tofu would be prepared alongside normal household activity such as washing clothes, sometimes causing soapy water to splash onto the tofu. Human excrement would be stored next to the tofu products and utensils used to make the tofu would be reused without any sanitization.

Recently, when an inspection was conducted by authorities, all three officers vomited when they opened a bucket of marinated tofu. The tofu was marinated in rancid pork, snails, vegetables and dead flies. It was very black with a putrid smell.

The owner said, “This is how 'smelly tofu' is made. Of course, the smellier the better.”

It is estimated that over one thousand people are involved in the manufacturing and selling of “smelly tofu” in Shenzhen City. It is a very profitable business. Each pack of “smelly tofu” costs RMB 48 cents (approximately USD 6 cents) to produce and sells for RMB 1.5 yuan (USD 19cents.) More than 500 packs are sold each day. This means a “smelly tofu” vendor can make over 500 yuan (approximately $US 65) per day.