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Chinese Firm Demands CNN Apology for Century Egg Slur

Photo of pi dan, a traditional Chinese dish also known as a century egg.
Photo of pi dan, a traditional Chinese dish also known as a century egg.

China's largest egg processing company says it is demanding an apology from a U.S.-based television network for describing a traditional Chinese dish as the world's most disgusting food.

Chinese broadcast and print media said Wednesday the demand was issued by the chairman of the Hubei Shendan Healthy Food Company on behalf of his 3,000 workers.

The company makes a dish called pi dan, or century eggs, in which eggs are preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime and traditional medicines until the yolk turns a dark green or gray and the white becomes a brown, translucent jelly.

The author who described the dish as "disgusting", a blogger based in the U.S. state of Texas, has already apologized for the remark in an open letter to the people of Taiwan that was published in the Tapei Times.

Blogger Danny Holwerda wrote that he submitted a video to the cable news network CNN in April in response to a request for stories from viewers about the most revolting foods they had ever eaten. He said he had recently eaten a century egg purchased at an Asian supermarket in Texas.

Holwerda said he had not known that CNN would feature his report as the lead item in a recent feature on the world's most disgusting foods. He said his initial excitement gave way to horror as he was vilified on international discussion boards, denounced by a Taiwan legislator and deluged with e-mails calling him an ignorant racist or worse.

Holwerda added that he had never intended to show disrespect for the people or culture of Taiwan.

The letter from Shendan charged that CNN's report was obviously conducted "in an unscientific way" and that it proved the network's "ignorance and arrogance, as well as a complete lack of respect for cultural traditions in other countries."

It added that century eggs are 20 percent lower in cholesterol than regular eggs and that protein and fat in the eggs are more easily absorbed into the body.