I’ve been amused by the recent news reports of fake eggs in Malaysia, which were supposedly imported from China. By now, the Veterinary Services Department has announced that the eggs are actually real, albeit low-grade ones that aren’t supposed to be sold to the general public. But the Consumer Association of Penang continues to insist that at least some of the eggs are fake. All this is despite an earlier announcement that Malaysia does not actually import fresh eggs at all from China.
So what prompted all this? My guess would be that someone noticed some odd looking eggs in a shop, recalled reading the widely e-mailed news reports of fake eggs from China from about 3 to 4 years ago, and put two and two together. But were those reports credible in the first place? My curiosity piqued, I set out to do some serious Googling.
The gold-standard in websites exposing scams and hoaxes of all sorts is of course Snopes, but unfortunately they don’t appear to have an article on this subject. The forum on Snopes however does have this discussion thread dating back to 2007 which largely concludes that making artificial eggs from chemicals doesn’t make economic sense and that no mainstream news organization picked up on the story. Since the tainted milk scandal in China was widely reported around the world, it doesn’t make sense that something as egregious as fake eggs would escape notice.
Another website specializing in scams and hoaxes, Hoax-Slayer, does have an article on the subject, also dating from 2007. It shows the widely circulated e-mail about the fake eggs in its entirety. This article also broadly concludes that there is no credible evidence that such reports are true and also traces how the hoax was originally spread by a number of websites and subsequently retracted. But as with all rumors, people only remember the rumor itself and never the retraction or refutation.