From Crayfish To Doughnuts – Chinese Netizens Fed Up With Food Scandals


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Two new food safety scandals has shaken China’s netizens. Popular chains Zheng Wen Qi Crayfish Donburi and BreadTalk are serving their customers contaminated and expired food. Weibo’s netizens have had enough.

Food safety has recurrently been an issue in China, as one after the other food safety scandal has erupted over the past few years due to lack of knowledge about contamination and inadequate supervision. Earlier this month, two popular food enterprises were found to have food safety issues in Shanghai (上海) and Shenzhen (深圳), causing an uproar on Sina Weibo and WeChat.

In Shanghai, the popular Zheng Wen Qi Crayfish Donburi (郑文琪龙虾盖浇饭), a nation-wide crayfish restaurant, was ordered to close one of its outlets after seven people eating there had fallen sick. A number of diners who had to wait in line at the restaurant were reported suffering from diarrhea, stomach aches and vomiting.

On August 21st, the local market supervision administration released the inspection report, revealing that employees and diners were infected with vibrio parahaemolyticus bacteria, typically causing disease in people who eat contaminated seafood.

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Later, owner and founder Zheng Wenqi claimed in a statement that all of the ingredients had met the requirements and passed the appropriate quality checks. This suggested that the contamination was caused by the staff who didn’t follow the right ways to cook the crayfish.

“The right to health and safety is a basic consumer right.”

Netizens on Sina Weibo are angry that the restaurant has not apologized to the poisoned customers, and has instead shifted the focus to employees’ misoperation. User Flower Majesty comments: “We need public apology! The company didn’t criticize itself or examine its ingredients after the poisening occurred. The right to health and safety is a basic consumer right. We have the right to know the details of more specific penalties.”

The Crayfish scandal is not the only food safety scandal this month. Singaporean chain BreadTalk (面包新语) was reported of reusing cooking oil and replacing expiration labels on its bread in one of its Shenzhen stores.

He recorded another employee saying: “I’m not going to eat it myself.”

The violation operation was discovered by a journalist from TV show “Law Time” (法治时空), who went undercover as an employee at the store. With a hidden camera, the reporter recorded Breadtalk’s everyday management. He found out that the store reused the same cooking oil to fry doughnuts for months in a row. He was able to capture employees saying that the oil is used repeatedly, and that they only add some new oil if it they run low on oil or when regulators come for investigation.

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The correspondent also discovered that the BreadTalk staff exchanged products’ expired tags instead of throwing it away. He recorded another employee saying: “I’m not going to eat it myself.”

BreadTalk has stated through its official Weibo account that the report is absolutely false. According to the statement, BreadTalk always complies with national food hygiene and food safety requirements – from ingredient procurement and logistics to warehousing and instore production.

“How come an enterprise like BreadTalk is still running as if nothing has happened?”

Netizens quickly initiated a lively discussion on Sina Weibo under the hashtag “The Fall of BreadTalk” (#面包新语沦陷#). The majority of the users expressed anger and disappointment, as it was not the first time BreadTalk was reported regarding food safety issues.

User ‘Xiaoyao 520′ points out: “BreadTalk used expired flour last year and then another food safety issue is reported this year. Didn’t the food watchdog claim that they would be severely punished? How come an enterprise like BreadTalk is still running as if nothing has happened?”

Other users urge BreadTalk to face the reality and solve their problems rather than covering and concealing them to the public.

User ‘Zheng Yuntian’ says: “Actually I don’t think your [BreadTalk’s] issue is that serious compared with other food processing enterprises in China. But when problems are reported, the best way to deal with them is to find a solution instead of making superficial statements. It will really ruin your reputation amongst customers.”

By Yiying Fan

This article was published on What’s on Weibo.

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