USDA Bans Delicacy? Pork Blood Cake Candles Snuffed Out

Continuing our popular theme of pig innards, we focus today on blood, and prove that there is a little vampire in all of us. Yet our bureaucrats seek to disguise their nature.

Yesterday’s headlines in all Taiwanese newspapers screamed with indignation: United States Department of Agriculture To Ban Pork Blood Cake! Typical is this news report (which is in Mandarin; but you’ll get the idea; word-for-word, pork blood cake = jew shiyah gao):

Pork blood cake is just that: a cake made of pig’s blood and rice stuck on a stick. The rice and blood are cooked together and then left to set up; the rice binds the blood. The end results is like a sausage without a skin.

The best pork blood cake looks like a slightly melted fudgesicle. Just before eating, it is steamed or otherwise warmed, then dunked in a sweet and slightly salty black concoction which tastes of a cross between oyster and sugary soy sauce. This ersatz fudgesicle is then coated with cilantro and finally plastered with sweet peanut powder. It is almost always ensconced in a plastic bag so that the sauce can’t drip on your fingers.

If you’re a fan of black pudding or blood sausage—and who isn’t?—then you will adore pork blood cake, which is sweet, warm, unctuous, and with a slight chewiness. It is delicious. This only goes to prove the old adage: all the best food is on sticks.

The worst pork blood cake isn’t; by which I mean that inferior duck or chicken blood is substituted, but it is—let’s admit it—sometimes still called pork blood cake. A telltale is usually that the cake is rectangular and hard. Real pork blood, as the saying goes, melts in your mouth. You have to apply some heavy-duty tooth friction to get duck blood to slide down the tubes.

The telltale only works in you are in a night market, where a food’s origin can often be mysterious; grocery stores sell pork blood cake in plastic-covered rectangles. Manufacturers also export it in this shape, where it eventually makes it way to the States. But you won’t find it in your local Safeway or Super Walmart. Head to the nearest Chinese of East Asian grocery; where even if you find it, you’ll still have to make your own sauce. Pork Blood Cake

So much for recipes. Why would the United States Department of Agriculture ban this delicacy? After all, pork blood cake was just picked last year as the Number One Strangest food by the site Virtual Tourist—which only proves that these folks don’t get out enough; deboned decrowned inverted pork rectums didn’t even make the list.

I have not been able to discover on any official site whether the ban is real. But people in Taiwan sure think it is, which is saying something. Food is taken seriously in Taiwan, and such ban, even if only a rumor, is seen as a personal insult, almost fightin’ words.

Many Taiwanese think Americans are being hypocritical. After all, we eat pig, and some of us even eat pig blood; actually, anybody who eats pig meat eats some blood, of course. So why specifically ban pork blood cake? Could it be retaliation on the part of the American government?

Earlier in the year, Taiwan banned (at least temporarily) the importation of American beef innards, fearing that they might be contaminated with mad cow disease. Many restaurants went further and ceased using American-produced cow meat of any kind.

A poster was designed for vendors and restaurants to place in their windows, which advertised that they did not use any American cow parts in their cooking. I am unable to locate a copy of this, but my memory tells me it was red and had a picture of an angry, yet very manly, stars-and-stripes bull, painted over with a circle with a line through it.

Taiwan’s ban of American cow innards produced little outcry here in the States, mainly because most people here do not regularly dine on cow guts (though they are delicious, especially tripe).

In Taiwan, one man, who calls himself Lucifer Chu, is so incensed that he is threatening to create and release another video to “promote” pork blood cake. He calls the USDA’s action “cultural discrimination.” Chu unleashed a video last year on the subject, after seeing Virtual Tourist’s survey. You can watch it linked from a story on Radio Taiwan International. We should take Chu’s threat seriously.

Newspapers are saying the USDA suspects pork blood cake production is unsanitary; hence the emphasis in the video above on the cleanliness and sophistication of the process. If the ban is real, it is another example of bureaucrats sticking their palates where they do not belong. Let pork blood cake be released from its regulatory bonds!

Comments

USDA Bans Delicacy? Pork Blood Cake Candles Snuffed Out — 21 Comments

  1. Koreans do something like this. It’s called soondae. It was one of my favorite dishes in Korea.

    Pity that stupid bureaucratic messes get in the way of good food.

  2. Looks like some dumb A** at USDA is practicing discrimination on the poor Taiwanese folks. Maybe they should pick on their own people and ban blood sausages. Maybe not, they’ll have the Europeans marching down their throat. Sorry, some voted for “Change.” This is what we got.

  3. The CNA story and TVBS news was not true. A LA reporter for UDN heard a rumor and reported it as truth. The USDA did not BAN pig blood cake. get over it….google “Tom Pipes Up Again” blog to see the unvarnished. TRUTH…….blogging from Taiwan

  4. Saturday, September 25, 2010
    Topics | Are pig’s blood cake snacks from Taiwan safe to eat in USA? Taiwan blogger Lucifer Chu threatens international protest, dumping pig’s blood on Uncle Sam effigy!

    UPDATE : this is most likely the result of sloppy reporting in Taiwan.

    Angry ”Lucifer” Chu,35, threatens to make protest video in flap over pig blood cake

    A Taiwanese man who created a YouTube.com video promoting Taiwan’s pig blood cake says that he will post a video protest on the site if the United States of Pig America does not lift a reported ban on the traditional Taiwanese night market snack which is way delicious.

    “Will the U.S. also ban German blood sausage and British black pudding? ” said Lucifer Chu, who produced a bilingual video showing him and some other people eating pig’s blood cake coated with peanut powder and coriander leaves.

    Chen told the local tabloid media that if the alleged ban is not lifted, he will make another video protesting what he called “cultural discrimination” by the U.S.

    The local Chinese-language United Daily News reported a false rumour on Saturday that reportedly said allegedly that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has banned the making and selling of pig blood cake throughout the U.S. because it is produced in unsanitary conditions. True or not? In fact, the USDA website says nothing of the sort!

    However, there is no mention of such a ban on the websites of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture.

    The food, which was listed on a travel website as one of the 10 unusual foods in the world, is made of pig blood and sticky rice.

    One of the local producers of pig blood cake, Lee Chien-liang, said that the entire process is carried out in low-temperature and sanitary conditions.

    There is no contamination of the blood during the process, he told TV reporters at a factory in Taipei County in northern Taiwan Saturday.

    Meanwhile, a Taiwanese politician may probe the local manufacture of pig blood cake.

    Cheng Jen-hung said Saturday that he may apply to conduct an investigation into the manufacturing process of pig blood cake after media reports said the snack had been banned in the United States.

    Local television stations and newspapers cited unnamed and unreliable sources in Los Angeles County as saying the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had allegedly reportedly sort of maybe kinda banned the sales of the food, which is made of pig blood and sticky rice. Not.

    The USDA website, however, did not include any information about the reported ban.

    In Taiwan, it is usually eaten as a steamed snack — served on a wooden stick like ice cream — or cooked in a hot pot.

    Cheng, a former Consumers’ Foundation chairman, said there were also public doubts in Taiwan over hygiene issues. He said people were concerned the products could deteriorate while being made at room temperature or become contaminated at small or traditional factories.

    He said that many people outside Taiwan learned of the dish after it was voted one of the world’s 10 most unusual foods in a British website poll in 2009.

    The reported alleged U.S. ban on the sale of pig blood cake could lead other developed countries to follow suit, he said, adding that it “would be a big blow for the traditional snack.”

    Cheng said that he did not rule out the possibility of applying to the FBI and CIA to conduct an investigation.

  5. ellen barker,

    I find it difficult to believe, too. But what’s interesting here is the country-wide reaction. This bespeaks a level of passion about food—and by that I do not mean celebrity chefs—that is entirely missing here in the States.

  6. Dear Dr Briggs,
    No no, it’s not about food, it’s about anti-US feelings. Yes, the faux news has appeared on all of Taiwan’s TV networks, and in all the nation’s newspapers, with photos of Lucifer and the dearly beloved ”blood cake on a stick” snacks, but the reason is not because of the ROC is passionate about food. It is, but that’s another story. This story is about how a false rumor in Los Angeles got picked up by a Taiwanese reporter based in Los Angeles, who wrote a story for her paper in Taipei, which broadcast the news nationwide and then got picked up by bloggers everywhere around the island. It’s not about food, it’s about anger: “How dare the USA ban our food, our delicious yummy “ju shieh gao” as if the USA is so cool with its ugly hamburgers and fattening fries! Damn those imperialist cultural baddies!”

    That’s what this is about, and the news story was fake and false and faux to begin with. The USDA has nothing on its website about this. There is not one report in the LA Times or the AP in California about this. I spoke with a college student today, 23 years old, she said when she saw the news on TV last night about this, she was “angry at America’ for banning her favorite snack. When I suggested to her that this news story might be fake and unsubstaniatied she calmed down and said “Really?” The Taiwanese are rational when they see all the facts, but the way this news went out, it made Lucifer Chen turn red and he’s still planning to unleash a new YouTube video criticizing Uncle Sam for his piggish behavior. But soon Lucifer will have egg on his face when he learns the truth. I tried to email him but he won’t believe me.

    Time will tell. Here are the facts: one can still make and buy ju shieh gao in the USA, no problem.

  7. How much pwak blood cake is imported into the US in a year? 100 lbs, maybe? I go to an Asian market every month or two and I’ve never see it there. This is a big place, they have everything.

  8. Ellen Baker,

    Thanks very much for looking into this more. Fascinating story; and of course, I accept your explanation, which makes sense.

  9. How about a side of scrapple to go with our Pork Blood Cake and Inverted Rectums:

    Scrapple, also known by the Pennsylvania Dutch name pon haus,[1][2] is traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour, often buckwheat flour, and spices. The mush is formed into a semi-solid congealed loaf, and slices of the scrapple are then panfried before serving. Scraps of meat left over from butchering, not used or sold elsewhere, were made into scrapple to avoid waste. Scrapple is best known as a regional American food of the Mid-Atlantic States (Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland). Scrapple and pon haus are commonly considered an ethnic food of the Pennsylvania Dutch, including the Mennonites and Amish. Scrapple is found in supermarkets throughout the region in both fresh and frozen refrigerated cases.

    Locally called “everything but the oink” or made with “everything but the squeal”,[3] scrapple is typically made of hog offal, such as the head, heart, liver, and other scraps, which are boiled with any bones attached (often the entire head), to make a broth. Once cooked, bones and fat are discarded, the meat is reserved, and (dry) cornmeal is boiled in the broth to make a mush. The meat, finely minced, is returned to the pot and seasonings, typically sage, thyme, savory, black pepper, and others, are added. [4][5] The mush is formed into loaves and allowed to cool thoroughly until set. The proportions and seasoning are very much a matter of the region and the cook’s taste.[6]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrapple

    A picture of a chunk of scrapple: http://i56.tinypic.com/263k5l3.jpg

  10. now the truth comes out…the USDA never wanted to investigate this issue. the Taiwan news was sloppy and ill-reported.

    The US said that the pig blood cake health supervisory commission member does not apply for the investigation

    美國說豬血糕不衛生 監委申請調查

    [United Daily News ╱ Reporter Li Shunde the/Taibei reported] 2010.09.28 06:00 pm

    The US side take manufactures the procedure health as a reason, endures sells the pig blood cake, initiates the supervisory commission member to pay attention, supervisory commission member Cheng Renhong, Yang Mei Ling applied to investigate Taiwan pig blood cake manufacture situation yesterday. The supervisory commission member indicated that the application automatic investigation is melt passively to initiative, puts out the actual material and the investigation result, tells the society the populace truth is anything, is not American such great nation, how by reason of the impression can say how can say. Cheng Renhong indicated that supervises the courtyard investigation to have with emphasis two: First, whether the Controlling organization once did spot-check the pig blood cake to manufacture the factory? The electricity butchers pig which the pig or slaughters artificially, the pig blood uses the related flow, to ship whether to conform to the security specifications? Second, the investigation pig blood originates, whether the Controlling organization once did spot-check whether there is increases the antiseptic? Does the pig only execute hits the antibiotic, whether there is the pig blood residual antibiotic and so on related spot-check and the examination? The entire document estimated that in three months complete the report of investigation. Cheng Renhong indicated that if the control yuan investigates thoroughly, discovered that Taiwan this tradition good food the manufacture flow, the export mechanism, the authentication and so on, meet the hygienic security condition, will request the Controlling organization to propose the explanation on own initiative to the US side, indicated that Taiwan manufacture pig blood cake flow had the jail courtyard to make the surveillance with to endorse, may feel at ease edible, and provides American the importer to refer. He pointed out that the US cannot explain one-sidedly, perhaps imagines Taiwan manufacture pig blood cake the flow, should pass through the objective mechanism, the examination and the check can the judgment. Looks like the beautiful cow to dispute that Taiwan populace have the security anxiety to the edible beautiful cow, but the US side provides the scientific data and the information certificate beautiful cow security no worries, supervises the courtyard investigation the intention in here. Cheng Renhong indicated that if supervises the courtyard spot-check result, indeed discovered that the pig blood cake manufacture flow has the flaw, not to conform to the hygienic security, also will request the Controlling organization to carry out the surveillance and the concrete improvement movement. He said that to understand that the Controlling organization has does not have the safe check which the promising populace eat, he already prepared to institutions and so on ministry of economic affairs, Council of Agriculture (COA), department of health to take up a file, the analytic statistics material, quickest next Tuesday will arrive at the pig blood cake to manufacture the factory personally to investigate on the spot. MACHINE TRANSLATION SORRY, MAndarin is here:

    美國說豬血糕不衛生 監委申請調查

    【聯合報╱記者李順德/台北報導】 2010.09.28 06:00 pm

    美方以製作程序不衛生為由,禁售豬血糕,引發監委關注,監委程仁宏、楊美玲昨天申請調查台灣豬血糕製作情形。監委表示,申請自動調查是化被動為主動,拿出實際的資料及調查的結果,告訴社會大眾真相是什麼,不是美國這樣的大國,憑著印象要怎麼說就可怎麼說。

    程仁宏表示,監院調查重點有二:第一,主管機關是否曾抽查豬血糕製作工廠?電宰豬或人工宰殺的豬隻,豬血取用相關流程、運送是否符合安全規範?第二,調查豬血來源,主管機關是否曾抽查有無添加防腐劑?豬隻施打抗生素,豬血有無殘留抗生素等相關抽查與檢測?全案預計三個月內完成調查報告。

    程仁宏表示,如果監察院深入調查,發現台灣這項傳統美食的製作流程、出口機制、認證等,都符合衛生安全的條件,將要求主管機關主動向美方提出說明,表明台灣製作豬血糕流程已有監院做監督與背書,可以安心食用,並提供美國進口商參考。

    他指出,美國不能片面解讀,或是想像台灣製作豬血糕的流程,應該經過客觀機制、檢驗及把關才能論斷。就像美牛爭議,台灣民眾對食用美牛有安全疑慮,但美方提供很多科學數據與資訊證明美牛安全無虞,監院調查的用意就在這裡。

    程仁宏表示,如果監院抽查結果,的確發現豬血糕製作流程有缺失、不符合衛生安全,也會要求主管機關落實監督及具體改善的動作。

    他說,為了解主管機關有沒有為民眾吃的安全把關,他已經準備向經濟部、農委會、衛生署等機關調卷,分析統計資料,最快下周二親自到豬血糕製作工廠實地勘查。

  11. http://blog.udn.com/NorthAmerica/4452051

    這位William M. Briggs和 Ellen Barker網友說的是否事實我不確定,但是在美國農業部網站上我的確找不到任何禁止販賣豬血糕的資料,而很容易的可以找到美國超市出售豬血的圖片。 在美國為了她畜牧業的衛生考量,肉製品必須經過非常嚴格的檢疫措施才能進口,台灣的豬血糕因此也不能進口美國。 如果有豬血糕,必需是由美國的屠宰場所生產。 我想很明顯的是美國的亞洲超市很容易可以和美國的屠宰場批發豬肉及豬內臟,但豬血糕必須在屠宰場立刻將新鮮豬血混入糯米飯中製作,美國農民經營的屠宰場很顯然不會為著很小的台灣市場特別做豬血糕的處理,所以在美國當然要買豬血糕十分困難,相形之下賣成塊的豬血則簡單的多。

  12. trans of above:

    “This William M. Briggs and Ellen the Barker net friends said whether fact is indefinite, but I indeed could not find in the American Ministry of Agriculture website any forbids to trade the pig blood cake the material, but very easy to be possible to find the American supermarket sell pig blood the picture. In the US for her animal husbandry’s hygienic consideration, the meat product must pass through the very strict quarantine measure to be able to import, Taiwan’s pig blood cake therefore cannot import the US. If has the pig blood cake, essential is by US’s slaughtering place production. What I want to be very obvious is US’s Asian supermarket is very easy to be possible with US’s slaughter house wholesale pork and the pig internal organs, but the pig blood cake must mix in the slaughter house the fresh pig blood in the glutinous rice to manufacture immediately, the American farmers manage the slaughter house will not be making the pig blood cake specially very obviously for the very small Taiwan market processing, must therefore certainly buy the pig blood cake in the US to be very difficult, will compare sells Cheng Kuai pig blood simple many.

  13. Hi Ellen,

    Let me try to translate it by myself as well….. :)

    ================

    I am not sure whether William M. Briggs and Ellen Barker’s comments are valid, but indeed I could not find anything regarding banning sales of pork blood cake on the USDA web site. On the other hand, I can easily find pictures of “pork blood solution” in the U.S. grocery stores.

    To protect the sanitary and health conditions of her livestocks, meat products cannot be imported into the U.S. without strict quarantine and inspection procedures, and thus pork blood cake made in Taiwan cannot be shipped to the U.S. All pork blood cakes you can purchase in the U.S. must come from the domestic butcher houses. I believe it is pretty easy for Asian supermarkets in the U.S. to order pork and pork offals (stomach, intestine, etc) from the butcher houses, but it will be difficult to order pork blood cakes because the butcher houses need to introduce an extra procedure to mix the fresh pork blood with the sticky rice to form cakes, and it is likely losing money doing so for the small Taiwanese market.

    Therefore it must be easy to buy pork blood solution in the U.S. Asian supermarkets, but pretty difficult for pork blood cakes.

  14. 北美隱士, Ellen,

    I have seen pork blood cake in Ranch 99 Markets (Da Hwa, in California) before, but not in every branch. I’ll see if it’s still on the shelves and take a picture. It wasn’t easy to find before, though. Only a few stores ever carried it.

  15. So then it is confirmed by 北美隱士 above: there is nothing on the USDA website or in any US newspaper that says the original UDN sensationalized news story was true. And APPLE DAILY picked up the false story and all the Taiwan TV stations ran the story and Lucifer Chu got all angry at the USA for nothing, and now what? Will he apologize for accusing the USA of “cultural discrimination’ when the entire story was a false news report? No, he will say nothing. Egg on his face and eating crow in Shida Night Market, I am sure. But he does owe an apology to his Taiwanese fans, if nothing else. The USA does practice cultural discrmination at times, but not over Taiwanese pig blood cake. Please, Lucifer, get your facts straight before you go off at the mouth! SMILE…..

  16. Today UDN (United Daily News) already covered this story, reporting that USDA did not issue bans on pork blood cake.

    http://udn.com/NEWS/LIFE/LIF1/5884846.shtml

    It says
    * USDA did not ban pork blood cake;
    * but it is true you cannot buy pork blood cake in Southern California restaurants;
    * It is speculated that this is due to recent enhanced inspection of imported meat products;
    * there is no legal (licensed) manufacturer for pork blood cake in Southern California;
    * It is speculated that those you can buy (from smaller grocery stores) were imported illegally.

    The report did mention that both Apple Daily and United Daily News contacted USDA to try to verify the report, and UDN reported this by citing World Journal (a Chinese newspaper circulating in the U.S., basically a “sister media” of UDN).

  17. 北美隱士,

    California, or some municipality within, banning anything would not be a surprise to anybody.

    Thanks for following up on this. How are people back in Taiwan reacting?

  18. Briggs,

    So far I read nothing about the followups. I guess this topic will just quietly die down in Taiwan. Taiwan media is known for emphasing “speed” over “validity”. Usually media report a news article first and then try to verify it (like this pork blood cake one), because this is how the Taiwanese readers like. So when it is found something untrue, people will just forget/ignore it as time goes by.

    Right now I think the only public responses on this news are

    * Lucifer Chu claimed he wanted to make a (YouTube) video to show how delicious and sanitary pork blood cake is. I guess he will just quietly stop working on this video. Even before UDN published the clarification article, I did not find Chu mentioned anything in his official blog site, http://blogs.myoops.org/, regarding pork blood cake.

    * Two Control Yuan members wanted to investigate the sanitary condition of pork blood cake manufacturing in Taiwan. I guess this will likely continue, but it is difficult to guess what they will find. In Taiwan Control Yuan is like the U.S. Congress with impeachment power only, and they are not elected, but nominated by the president (with approval from the Legislative Yuan).

    I agree with Ellen that there is some “anti-US” component behind this pork blood cake issue. This “anti-US” thinking is not purely political, but I do not know how to explain it. Earlier Taiwanese people resist strongly against imports of some U.S. beef, claiming “the American beef is poisonous” (Mad Cow Disease). Taiwanese don’t care whether Americans are eating the same beef, and they don’t want any possibility of getting Mad Cow Disease even if the probability is less than 0.000000000000000001. Therefore when the news arrive that “the US thinks our pork blood cake is not sanitary”, you can imagine why Lucifer Chu wanted to counter that — “you want to sell us your poisonous beef and you think our pork blood cake is dirty?”