PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 10:47am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 1:48pm

Video: Chinese restaurants found to serve poisonous fake shark fin soup


Amy Li began her journalism career as a crime news reporter in Queens, New York, in 2004. She joined Reuters in Beijing in 2008 as a multimedia editor. Amy taught journalism at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu before joining SCMP in Hong Kong in 2012. She is now an online news editor for Amy can be reached at, or follow her on Twitter @AmyLiSCMP

Think twice before you order your favourite shark fin soup next time - chances are you may be paying for an expensive bowl of mung bean starch gel and gelatine.

An investigative report by China’s CCTV on Tuesday revealed the shocking practise among restaurants in Beijing, Guangdong, Zhejiang and Fujian: serving chemically made "shark fin" to diners who are made to believe they are eating the real thing.

A mixture of mung bean starch, gelatine, sodium and other chemicals, the fake fin dish served in expensive restaurants and wedding feasts has become a popular choice among customers, especially those eager to impress guests with a "high-end" dish, said the report.

In a Zhejiang restaurant named Xanadu, a fake bowl of shark fin was sold for 150 yuan (HK$186), while the ingredients cost only 5 yuan, said the report.

CCTV estimated that up to 40 per cent of the shark fins consumed in mainland Chinese restaurants could be fake. Experts warn that chemicals and additives used to make fake fins are poisonous and could damage the lung and other organs.

The shocking revelation has sparked heated discussions on China’s micro-blogging service Sina Weibo. “It’s the corrupt officials who eat shark fins, right?” said a blogger. “It’s a fair world after all.”

“People who eat it for a better image should get it over with now,” said another Weibo user.


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