43 tons of shark fins padded with sodium hydroxide sold
Chosun Daily News,
Japanese Edition, April 30th, 2013
( South Korea ) – Buson Coastguard issued an arrest warrant for a Taiwanese tradesman and a South Korean food processing company representative on the 29th under charges of selling 43 tons of shark fins, the weight of which had been increased by the addition of sodium hydroxide (lye), a caustic chemical that is harmful to humans.
The Taiwanese trader is suspected of importing shark fins containing large amounts of sodium hydroxide from China and other places from February last year until just recently, and selling them to food product distributors and high-end Chinese restaurants around South Korea. The South Korea food processing company representative is suspected of having learned the method of “padding” the shark fin with sodium hydroxide to increase the weight in March of 2011 from a Chinese technical expert, and he is under suspicion of selling 18 tons of shark fins padded to increase weight. According to the Buson Coastguard, “the sodium hydroxide contained in the shark fins in question increases the weight of the fins by 3 to 6 times, and the [caustic] chemical remains in large amounts after all processing has been completed.”