Taiwan -- A chef specializing in shark fin soup warned consumers that many shark fins bought in Taiwan are fake and might pose a hazard to their health.
Wang Chia-chuan, who works for a restaurant in Taichung, noted that the supply of shark fins has dwindled in recent years because of worldwide attempts to conserve sharks.
He said that many of the shark fins sold are actually made from a mixture of mung bean starch gel, fish skin and gelatin -- a substance extracted from the boiled bones, skins and tendons of animals.
Wang said the manufacturers of these fake shark fins then use hydrogen peroxide solution to bleach their products to make them look genuine, and that those who unknowingly consume the look-alike shark fins could be endangering their health.
Even real shark fins are not always safe to consume, because some restaurants soak dried fins in chemical solutions to speed up the process of softening them for cooking, he said.
The chef suggested that before buying such products, consumers should learn how to distinguish genuine shark fins from fake ones. He said that involves judging from the look, smell and taste of the fins, as well as using the fingers to stretch or break up the cartilage.
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