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

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.

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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.

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 in Shanghai 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

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China Digital

Exclusive QR Code-Based Service Under Fire: The 3 Major Downsides to Contactless Ordering

Self-service ordering is the norm in many restaurants across China, but its benefits do not always outweigh the downsides.

Manya Koetse

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QR code-based ordering is the new normal in Chinese restaurants, but contactless ordering also comes with major downsides. In a recent People’s Daily article, consumers’ rights expert Chen Yinjiang argues that contactless ordering can’t be the sole service option offered by businesses.

Along with China’s rapid digitalization, QR code-based ordering has become the norm for many restaurants across the country. Although many see QR code-based self-service – from waiting in line to ordering and paying – as a convenience that also saves the restaurant costs on staff, there are also downsides to these digital developments.

Contactless ordering is not just the new normal in many restaurants, it often also is the only way in which customers can order.

In a recent article published by Chinese state media outlet People’s Daily, the deputy secretary-general of China Consumer Protection Law Society, Chen Yinjiang (陈音江), argues that business owners in China should offer customers the choice, saying: “Consumers have the right to choose whether they want to order by scanning a code or order through a waiter. Businesses can’t just consider the costs without considering the customer experience – especially when they neglect the requirements of elderly consumers.”

Image via http://www.hnntv.cn/

On Chinese social media, the criticism of exclusive QR code-based service in restaurants has become a hot topic of discussion. The hashtag “People’s Daily Discusses QR Code-Based Ordering” (#人民日报谈扫码点餐#) received 280 million views on Weibo on Monday.

Both the People’s Daily article and the online discussions mention the following three major downsides to QR code-based ordering.

 
1. Missing the Communication with the Waiter

One downside to contactless ordering is that customers miss out on the experience of communicating their order directly with the restaurant staff.

One reason why people would prefer to place their order directly with the waiter is that it gives them an opportunity to inquire about the menu, get advice on the best choice to make, and to communicate any special dietary wishes and preferences.

But another reason is simply that talking to restaurant staff is part of the dining out experience, with self-service ordering being a rather bleak substitute for those people who would actually like to have some more human interaction when they go out for food.

“If a restaurant only lets people order through smartphone and don’t offer a menu, the entire sense of ritual [of eating out] is gone,” one person comments, with others agreeing: “Ordering food is part of the dining culture.”

 
2. Leaving the Non-Tech-Savvy Customers Behind

Contactless ordering is also a nuisance to the elderly and non-tech-savvy customers who struggle to scan a QR code and place an order. For them, the process of online ordering is not convenient or fast but actually makes their restaurant experience all the more difficult and complicated.

“We live in an aging society. We really need to have other ways of handling this for the future,” one popular comment on Weibo said.

Other commenters also indicate that even for people who are used to ordering online, the process can be a nuisance. When changing their mind about their order, or accidentally ordering a wrong item, the entire order is gone and the customer needs to start from scratch again. This makes the process far less convenient than ordering with a staff member.

 
3. Privacy and Spam Concerns

There are also those who find that QR-based ordering is an invasion of their privacy. Many restaurants require customers to register or to ‘follow’ them on WeChat or elsewhere before allowing contactless ordering.

This means that customers do not only give away some personal information stored in their app profile, it also means that it is easy for companies to keep on sending promotions and other information to their customers long after they have left their restaurants.

While this might be an efficient marketing strategy for businesses, many people see this as a major disadvantage to QR-based ordering, and this complaint is one of the most-discussed ones on Weibo.

“Contactless ordering is actually a good thing, it is the fact that you need to register or follow the company before you can place an order that’s the problem,” multiple commenters say.

“I just want to order food – why would you need my phone number for that? Why would I need to follow your account for that?”

Many commenters on Weibo indicate that if restaurants only offer QR code-based ordering, they would rather not eat there at all.

Despite the criticism on self-service ordering, it is also praised by many. The general consensus on Weibo seems to be that virtual ordering is great, but should not be the only way to order and that smartphones and tablets should never replace ‘old-fashioned’ menus and waiters.

By Manya Koetse

Featured image via http://dc.wio2o.com/new/diancan.php

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Food & Drinks

Viral Video Exposes Wuhan Canteen Kitchen Food Malpractices

Boots in the food bowl, meat from the floor: this Wuhan college canteen is making a food safety mess.

Manya Koetse

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A video that exposes the poor food hygiene inside the kitchen of a Wuhan college canteen has been making its rounds on Chinese social media these days.

The video shows how a kitchen staff member picks up meat from the floor to put back in the tray, and how another kitchen worker uses rain boots to ‘wash’ vegetables in a big bowl on the ground, while another person is smoking.

The video was reportedly shot by someone visiting the canteen of the Wuhan Donghu University (武汉东湖学院) and was posted on social media on November 7.

According to various news sources, including Toutiao News, the school has confirmed that the video was filmed in their canteen, stating that those responsible for the improper food handling practices have now been fired.

The Wuhan Donghu University also posted a statement on their Weibo account on November 8, saying it will strengthen the supervision of its canteen food handling practices.

“The students at this school will probably vomit once they see this footage,” some commenters on Weibo wrote.

Wuhan Donghu University is an undergraduate private higher education institution established in 2000. The school has approximately 16,000 full-time undergraduate students.

“I’m afraid that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” one popular comment said, receiving over 25,000 likes.

Students from other universities also expressed concerns over the food handling practices in their own canteens, while some said they felt nauseous for having had lunch at the Wuhan canteen in question.

By Manya Koetse

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©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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