A batch of fake stewed pig ears made from chemicals that could cause blood and heart problems led to public health concerns in China, the China Daily reported Wednesday.
The fake pig ears, reportedly made from gelatin, were discovered on sale at a market in Jiangxi Province, in eastern China. Cooked pigs ears are a popular snack in China.
Local authorities are investigating the matter, and the alleged seller of the fake ears -- whose identity was not made public -- was arrested.
Fan Zhihong, an associate professor at the China Agricultural University, said the gelatin used to make the fake ears was potentially harmful to people's health.
"Adding the chemical makes the ears taste better and makes it hard for customers to discover that the ears are actually fake. Eating an excessive amount of sodium can result in high blood pressure and influence the heart's function," Fan said.
China's government has repeatedly vowed to improve food safety, as people grow increasingly alarmed about the quality of what they eat, but scandals still occur due to weak enforcement and unscrupulous business practices, according to AFP.
Pig ears are a common ingredient in China. One recipe from the northern province of Shanxi containing them is called "cengcengcui," which literally means "layer upon layer of crunch."
The investigation into the fake ears comes as authorities probe vegetable sellers in the eastern province of Shandong for spraying cabbages with formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals to keep them fresh.