China seizes 30,000 tons of chicken feet tainted by hydrogen peroxide

File photo: Chicken feet are popular in China, where they are often available as a packaged snack.

Story highlights

  • Authorities have seized over 30,000 tons of contaminated chicken feet
  • Chicken feet are a popular snack in China
  • Hydrogen peroxide is used as a disinfectant and bleach, but is harmful to eat

In the latest stomach-churning food scandal to hit China, authorities have seized over 30,000 tons of chicken feet contaminated with hydrogen peroxide, according to state media.

Thirty eight people have been arrested on charges of producing the tainted items, while 11 suspects remain at large.

Images on Chinese news websites show large troughs filled with chicken feet soaking in what authorities say is hydrogen peroxide, a colorless chemical compound used for sterilization and bleaching.

The chemical, which causes vomiting and other stomach problems if consumed, may have been used to give the chicken feet a whiter, cleaner appearance.

A report by official news agency Xinhua said the tainted items were first discovered in Yongjia County in Zhejiang, eastern China. A subsequent investigation revealed hydrogen peroxide was being used in nine factories in Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, and Guangdong, affecting several well-known brands of chicken feet sold in stores.

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'I want to throw up'

Chinese internet users are reacting with disdain and frustration.

    READ: Food safety scandals explained

    A top-rated comment on a microblog run by state television CCTV asks: "Are there any Chinese foods left that are safe?"

    Another fumes: "From now on, don't tell us what we can't eat — please tell us what we can eat!"

    One commenter says: "Yesterday I ate a lot of these, now I want to throw up."

    Chicken feet are popular in China, where they are often available as a packaged snack. However, this is not the first time the item has found itself at the center of a safety scare.

    In July 2013, police confiscated 20 tons of badly expired chicken feet from a frozen meat warehouse — some of the feet were reportedly 46 years old.