Next time you reach for some vinegar in which to dip that dumpling, consider this: The China Radio International (via China Daily) recently reported that "industry insiders" are raising concerns "that some businesses make vinegar by using excessive chemicals, even including a form of glacial acetic acid meant only for industrial use."
China has a national standard for blended vinegar that sets a maximum of 50 percent glacial acetic acid. However, both insiders contacted by China Daily said that it is virtually impossible to detect whether producers have added industrial acetic acid, and how much, creating a loophole for lawbreakers.
The allegations, made by an official in the Shanxi Vinegar Industry Association, has been refuted by more senior officials in the organization who insist that all Shanxi made vinegar is "brewed entirely with grain."
The jury’s still out on this one, but the Shanxi Vinegar Association has also announced a possible revision of the acidity scale requirements (the higher the acidity in vinegar, the less likely it will be deteriorate) later this year. Whether or not this move is related to these allegations is unclear, but let’s just hope the association has more credibility than the country’s Railway Ministry.