“This pepper is real or my name is mud!” While the vendor who sold imitation pepper at a market in China's Guangdong Province remains nameless, the so-called “pepper” he made from mud and flour has given shopkeepers in the region a very bad name indeed.
The dirty deed was reported to Global Times by a shopper who gave his surname as “Zhang.” It seems that after purchasing pepper from a market in his home town of Dongguan, Guangdong Province, he discovered the erstwhile ersatz spice was, er, not so nice.
Upon further investigation, it was determined that the market's black pepper was made from local mud and their white pepper was mainly composed of flour. When confronted by Mr. Zhang and several reporters, the vendor justified his actions by stating that the fake seasoning "would not kill people.”
Maybe he hasn't read the papers lately – food tampering in China is not a repeatable offense, if you get my drift.
This latest food scandal is one of many that have rocked Chinese society over the past several years – or perhaps its just that a more open attitude by governmental authorities is allowing previously hushed up incidents to reach a wider audience.
A greater question is why food producers and vendors continue to subvert the quality of their produce. The answer is simple: the fake pepper sold at the Dongguan market for 60 yuan ($9.2) per kilogram only cost the vendor a mere 4 yuan ($0.6) per kg. One might say his costs were... dirt cheap.