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Chinese friends brought us zongzi from China. I copied ingredients from two packs:

Pack 1

桃豆蜜枣粽

糯米,饮用水,蜜枣,鹰嘴豆,白砂糖,食品植物油。

红枣桂圆粽

糯米,饮用水,花生,红枣,桂圆,白砂糖。

Pack 2

蛋黄鲜肉粽

糯米,饮用水,猪肉,咸鸭蛋黄,酿造酱油(含焦糖色),白砂糖,食用盐,白酒,味精(含谷氨酸钠)

红绕排骨粽

糯米,饮用水,猪排骨,猪肉,酿造酱油(含焦糖色),白砂糖,红绕调科[味精(含谷氨酸钠)白砂糖,酱油,食用盐,麦芽糊精,乳糖,水解植物蛋白,食用香科,酵母抽提物,香辛科,食品添加剂(焦糖色,阿斯巴甜(含苯丙氨酸),红曲红)]食用盐,白酒,味精(含谷氨酸钠)

First of all, why are there two lists of ingredient on each pack? I though those plastic bags contained one dumpling each, yet there are two ingredient lists. Anyway, supposing (but not granting) I copied the characters correctly, I have problems translating this. Here's my attempt:

Pack 1

Chickpea candied date dumplings

Glutinous rice, drinkwater, candied dates, chickpeas, white sugar, edible vegetable oil (is this right?).

Red date and dragon eye dumbplings

Glutinous rice, drinkwater, peanuts, red dates, dragon eyes, white sugar.

Pack 2

Yolk and fresh meat dumplings

Glutinous rice, drinkwater, pig meat, salted duck yolk, fermented soy sauce (contains caramel color - that right?), white sugar, edible salt, white wine, MSG (contains MSG).

Hongrao (?) pork chops dumplings

Glutinous rice, drinkwater, pork ribs (are there actually bones in here?), pork, fermented soy sauce (contains caramel color - that right?), white sugar, hongrao diaoke [MSG (contains MSG), white sugar, soy sauce, edible salt, maltodextrin, lactose, hydrolyzed plant proteins, edible aromas (right?), yeast choutiwu, xiangxinke, food additives (caramel color, aspartame (contains phenilalanine), hongquhong)], edible salt, white wine, MSG (contains MSG).

Apart from «is this right?», my points are:

  1. What is that 食品植物油? More precisely, what does that "shípǐn" add to the vegetable oil?
  2. What is 焦糖色? "jiàotáng" would be "caramel", but "sè"?
  3. What is the difference between 味精 and 谷氨酸钠? In particular, it seems like wèijīng is not actually "monosodium glutamate" but some kind of more general term.
  4. What is 红绕? Is it a toponym?
  5. Why is 排骨 translated to "pork ribs" if it means only "ribs"? And does this mean there are actually bones in the dumplings or just the meat off the ribs?
  6. What are 食用香科?
  7. What does 调科 mean? Does it exist on its own or is it just some food name together with 红绕, i.e. 红绕调科 is some food often shortened to just 红绕?
  8. What does 抽提物 mean?
  9. What are 香辛科?
  10. 红曲 would mean "red food dye", but what's with that extra 红 at the end? What does this mean?
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First of all, why are there two lists of ingredient on each pack?

I have no clue. It doesn't make sense if there is only 1 zongzi in each pack.

  1. What is that 食品植物油? More precisely, what does that "shípǐn" add to the vegetable oil?

It should be 食用 (edible).

  1. What is 焦糖色? "jiàotáng" would be "caramel", but "sè"?

色 means color/pigment/dye. 酿造酱油(含焦糖色)can be interpreted as 'fermented soy sauce (caramel-colored)'.

  1. What is the difference between 味精 and 谷氨酸钠? In particular, it seems like wèijīng is not actually "monosodium glutamate" but some kind of more general term.

MSG is the main ingredient for 味精 but not necessarily the only ingredient.

  1. What is 红绕? Is it a toponym?

It should be 红烧 (red-braised).

  1. Why is 排骨 translated to "pork ribs" if it means only "ribs"? And does this mean there are actually bones in the dumplings or just the meat off the ribs?

In Chinese the 'default' meat is pork. Most 'body part' words like 排骨 (ribs), 肘子 (elbow), 口条 (tongue) refer to those of pork if the type of meat is not explicitly called out. In the detail ingredient list, however, you can see 猪排骨 is used for clarity.

From the description alone it is unclear whether the bones are excluded. Usually it is stated more clearly, something like 猪排骨肉 (meat from pork ribs) or 猪排骨(去骨) (pork ribs(without bones)).

  1. What are 食用香科?

It should be 食用香料 (edible flavors).

  1. What does 调科 mean? Does it exist on its own or is it just some food name together with 红绕, i.e. 红绕调科 is some food often shortened to just 红绕?

It should be 调料 (seasoning/condiment).

  1. What does 抽提物 mean?

Extract/essence.

  1. What are 香辛科?

It should be 香辛料 (spices).

  1. 红曲 would mean "red food dye", but what's with that extra 红 at the end? What does this mean?

红曲 refers to the mold (monascus purpureus) and 红曲红 (monascus red) refers to the red dye extracted from the mold.

Is the translation right?

Apart from the open issues above, the translation is generally right. One thing is in English you don't need to say 'edible' in a food ingredient list.

  • 1
    I think including "edible" in the ingredient name is more to do with labelling laws than language. – congusbongus Apr 10 '15 at 5:54
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I'd just like to add to the already comprehensive answer given by NSX with my guess as to why there are two ingredient lists. I think the same bag is probably used to package two different kinds of zongzi. If my guess is right, one of the two zongzi names should be highlighted, or have some kind of marking to indicate which of the two it is.

  • Yout guess is right: two zongzi per pack. No different highlighting though :). – MickG Apr 7 '15 at 21:17

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