Top chefs charged with using illegal ingredient

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Top chefs charged with using illegal ingredient

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office indicted three chefs from Korea’s top hotels yesterday on charges of using illegal ingredients in their dishes.

Novotel Ambassador Hotel chef Huh, 46, Intercontinental Hotel chef Shin, 45, and Marriott Hotel chef Lee, 36, were indicted without physical detention for using pickling salt containing sodium nitrite to season their salmon dishes to make the fish look more appetizing.

Sodium nitrite usage in fresh fish is illegal in Korea, and only small doses are allowed in processed ham and sausage and fermented fish egg products.

When used as a food additive, sodium nitrite boosts the natural color of the food and preserves it by preventing the growth of certain bacteria.

If consumed in excess, however, sodium nitrite may cause side effects including anemia.

Some studies have shown that the chemical can also lead to cancer if used in high-temperature cooking such as grilling.

Prosecutors said that Lee seasoned a total of 5,750 kilograms (12,677 pounds), or 48 million won ($41,848) worth of salmon served in the Marriott’s buffet restaurant with pickling salt that contained sodium nitrite.

Also, Shin and Huh allegedly used the same ingredient last year in their respective hotel restaurants. Shin is suspected to have seasoned 860,000 won worth of salmon from July to December last year at the Intercontinental while Huh is charged with seasoning around 1.3 million won worth of the fish from April to November last year at Novotel.


By Cho Jae-eun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]

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