1. Adding salt, sugar or other agents to increase weight
Through our survey, we found that the majority of Edible Bird's Nest available for sale are glazed with either salt, sugar or other additives to increase weight, often up to 40%. Imagine you pay $100 for 100g of nests but in reality you only get 60% of real nest while the remaining 40% is sugar. That means you pay $40 for 40g sugar!!! Just when you thought you got a good deal, you are actually paying more for the same amount of authentic Edible Bird's Nest. Not only that, the unknown additives used in the making of fake Bird's Nest could be carcinogens. Moreover, these unknown mixture of Edible Bird's Nest are highly susceptible to pathogenic bacteria and molds that could seriously damage your health.
Bird's Nest added increasing-weight agents
*** How to tell:
+ Pure authentic Bird's Nest: if you were to lick it, it would be tasteless, similar to licking a rice noddle. When you pick it up, it is light, brittle, and inflexible (even when exposed to air for a long time). It is prone to fracture even to light touches.
+ Edible Bird's Nest glazed with salt, sugar or other additives:
- Break off a small piece and chew it, you will find it sweet (or salty). Sometime you can even taste the sweetness or saltiness by just licking the Bird's Nest, especially when large amount s of additives were used. Another way to detect fake Edible Bird's Nest is to taste the water that was used to soak the Bird's Nest in. If the water become sweet or salty then the Bird's Nest were tampered with.
- The glazed Edible Bird's Nest are usually more flexible because the additives make the strands soft and bendy. These fake nests are highly susceptible to pathogenic bacteria and molds. They will often darken with prolonged exposure to air. This change in color is indicative of the Bird's Nest was glazed with some type of sweetener. In addition, the fake nests become iridescent under shining lights.
2. Red Nests
There are usually 3 categories of fake red Bird's Nest:
- Normal food coloring -> easily detectable upon soaking in water as the dye will leak out of the Edible Bird's Nest
- Industrial dyes -> hard to detect as the dyes won't leak when soaked in water
- Chemical reactions turning Bird's Nest from white to red. This is when Bird's Nests are put in the manure/compost pit, which contains NH3. Under the proper conditions, a chemical reaction will occur changing the Bird's Nest from white to red. Check out this YouTube video.
When done properly (UNCOMMON), even though the Edible Bird's Nest changed from red to white, the quality remains unchanged meaning these red nests have no additional nutritional values unlike the authentic red Bird's Nest made naturally by the swiftlets in sea caves. However, the price difference is significant. Authentic red EBN are priced 5-10x more than the white couterparts. Moreover, when incubated in the manure or compost pit, EBN can become contaminated with nitrite, which increases the risk of cancer upon prolonged consumption.
Nowadays, the market is flooded with these fake red EBN, often very cheap to attract uninformed customers. We found that some stores even give 20g free samples of red EBN with purchase of 100g white ones. How is that possible when red EBN worth 10x the price of the white ones? Be a smart consumer! Think twice before spending your hard-earned money buying toxins that could be detrimental to your health.
Fake Red Nests
*** How to tell:
Authentic red EBN carries the essence of the sea. Any one who has ever been to the ocean knows that the ocean air smells different. It has that distinct smell of the water, salt, sun and sand. Authentic red EBN has that same smell because it was exposed to the same elements. It has to be soak for a long time (2-3 hours) to become soft and the recommended cooking time is 2-3 hours compared to 30-45 minutes for the house EBN.
3. Fresh Bird's Nest
Fresh EBN are ones that have been soaked in water to clean out the debris but have NOT been through the drying stages. Hence, fresh EBN contain a large amount of water, ie weight of EBN and plus weight of water. It's impossible to assess whether you get a good deal as it's very difficult to know how much water fresh EBN contains.
There are rumors that fresh EBN is better than dried ones. That is NOT true. When it comes to nutritional value, fresh and dried EBN are the same. Smaller produces do not have adequate equipment for drying EBN so they spread such rumors for their benefits. And as we mentioned earlier, the customer usually lose when buying fresh EBN as it is nearly impossible to determine the amount of water inside. One way to check is to dry fresh EBN with fans then you can determine how much you actually pay for EBN vs water. Be an informed consumer and don't pay for water!
For your peace of mind, Hello Nest's food processing facilities are registered with the FDA. We are also licensed by the USDA and US Fish & Wildlife Services. We only uses bird's nests from small family farms that employ environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. Our bird's nest is 100% natural product and does not contain any chemical contaminant making it a premium product.
Unlike other manufacturers, we buy the bird's nests directly from the farmers and clean & package in our own facilities. We have strict quality control measures in place to ensure only the cream of the crop are delivered to our customers. By eliminating the middleman, we're able to provide you the highest quality bird's nests at substantial savings.
Our products are available in many Asian STORES throughout the US.