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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 Food & Drinks

Famous Goubuli Restaurant Calls Police for Getting Roasted Online, Gets Kicked Out of Franchise Group

Goubuli Wangfujing shows how NOT to address a social media crisis.

Manya Koetse

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The well-known Goubuli Wangfujing restaurant just got a bit more famous this week. The branch, which specializes in steamed buns, is now not just known as one of Beijing’s worst-rated restaurants, but also as a business that shot itself in the foot by handling a social media crisis the wrong way.

The famous Wangfujing main branch of Goubuli Steamed Buns (狗不理包子) is caught up in a social media storm since responding to a blogger’s negative video of their restaurant by contacting the police.

The video, Goubuli’s response to it, and the following consequences have hit the top trending topic lists on Weibo today.

Goubuli, sometimes transcribed as Go Believe, is a well-known franchise brand of steamed stuffed buns (baozi) from Tianjin that was founded in 1858. The brand now has more than 80 restaurants in mainland China, 12 of them in Beijing. Since Wangfujing is one of Beijing’s most famous streets, the Wangfujing branch is popular with both foreign and Chinese visitors.

 

Gu Yue’s “Visiting the Worst-Rated Restaurant” Video

 

The social media storm started on September 8, when Weibo blogger Gu Yue (谷岳) posted a video titled “Visiting the Worst-Rated Restaurant” (“探访评分最差餐厅”). Gu Yue is a travel blogger with over 1,7 million fans on Weibo.

Gu Yue in front of Gubouli.

In the video, Gu Yue starts by explaining he chose to visit Gubouli after searching for the restaurant that receives the lowest ratings in the Beijing Wangfujing and Dongdan areas on the super-popular Chinese mobile food app Dianping.

The blogger found that, out of the 1299 listed restaurants in the area, Wangfujing Goubuli Baozi was the worst-rated place. Ironically, the brand’s name Gǒubùlǐ (狗不理) literally means ‘dogs don’t pay attention,’ which makes the name ‘Goubuli Baozi’ sound like a place with stuffed buns that even dogs would not eat.

Complaining about the service, prices, and quality of food, many Dianping users rated the restaurant with just one out of five stars.

Gu Yue then sets out to visit the restaurant himself to see if Gubouli on Wangfujing really is as bad as Dianping users say. He orders some steamed braised pork dumplings, 60 yuan ($8.7) for 8, and regular pork dumplings, 38 yuan ($5.5) for 8.

The blogger concludes that Gubouli’s dumplings are not worth the money: the dumplings are greasy, the dough is too sticky, and they do not have enough filling. Gu Yue’s video also suggests that the restaurant’s hygienic standards are not up to par, with loud coughing coming from the kitchen.

Gu Yue’s video received over 97,000 likes and thousands of responses on Weibo, with many fans praising the idea of the blogger checking out the worst-rated restaurants.

 

Goubuli’s Reaction Starts a Social Media Storm

 

The Wangfujing branch of Goubuli did not appreciate Gu Yue’s video.

In an online statement on September 11, the branch accused the blogger of spreading lies about their restaurant and harming their reputation, and demanded a public apology.

Goubuli Wangfujing called the video “vicious slander” and stated they had contacted the police in relation to the matter.

The hashtag “Wangfujing Goubuli Responds to Netizen’s Negative Video” (#王府井狗不理回应网友差评视频#) immediately went viral on Weibo, attracting some 430 million views.

Many Weibo users were outraged about the way the Goubuli branch handled the situation. “Aren’t we even allowed to say if something is tasty or not?!” many commenters wondered, with others writing: “You are harming your own reputation!”

“Let’s call the police over the quality of your food,” others suggested.

There were also many netizens who commented that some Chinese Time-Honored brands, such as Goubuli, often only survive because of their history and fame rather than actually delivering good quality to their customers.

Following the major online backlash on its statement, the restaurant soon removed their post again. But the social media storm did not end there.

On September 15, the Goubuli Group issued a statement saying that it would directly terminate its franchise cooperation with the Goubuli Wangfujing branch over the incident.

With over 280 million views on its hashtag page (#狗不理解除与王府井店加盟方合作#), news of the franchise termination blew up on Weibo.

According to the latest Weibo reports on September 15, the Wangfujing Goubuli branch was closed for business on Tuesday (#狗不理包子王府井店门店关闭#).

“This is the power of clout,” one person comments: “If it were not for the [Goubuli] restaurant’s flawed marketing department, this would not have led to their closure.”

“The restaurant has brought this on themselves. There’s nothing wrong with posting a bad review.”

Another person comments: “This is the first time I’ve seen a marketing department making something big out of something small, leading to their own closing.”

Meanwhile, blogger Gu Yue says that he was not contacted by Goubuli, nor by the police. The social media controversy has only made him more popular.

“Gue Yue single-handedly crushed this restaurant,” some say, appreciating how social media has increased the power of Chinese consumers to make or break a business.

 
Also read: Overview of the Dolce&Gabbana China Marketing Disaster Through Weibo Hashtags
 

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 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

Tianjin Restaurant Introduces “Meal Boxes for Women”

The special lunch boxes for women were introduced after female customers had too much leftover rice.

Manya Koetse

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China’s anti food waste campaign, that was launched earlier this month, is still in full swing and noticeable on China’s social media where new iniatives to curb the problem of food loss are discussed every single day.

Today, the hashtag “Tianjin Restaurant Launches Special Female Meal Boxes” (#天津一饭店推出女版盒饭#) went trending with some 130 million views on Weibo, with many discussions on the phenomenon of gender-specific portions. The restaurant claims its special ‘female lunch boxes’ are just “more suitable for women.”

According to Tonight News Paper (今晚报), the only difference their reporter found between the “meals for women” and the regular meals, is the amount of rice served. Instead of 275 grams of rice, the ‘female edition’ of the restaurant’s meals contain 225 grams of rice.

The restaurant, located on Shuangfeng Road, decided to introduce special female lunch boxes after discovering that the female diners of the offices they serve usually leave behind much more rice than their male customers.

The restaurant now claims they expect to save approximately 10,000 kilograms of rice on an annual basis by serving their meals based on gender.

On Chinese social media, the initiative was heavily criticized. Weibo netizens wondered why the restaurant would not just offer “bigger” and “smaller” lunch boxes instead of introducing special meals based on gender.

“There are also women who like to eat more, what’s so difficult about changing your meals to ‘big’ and ‘small’ size?”, a typical comment said: “Some women eat a lot, some men don’t.”

Many people called the special meals for women sex discrimination and also wanted to know if there was a difference in price between the ‘female’ and ‘male’ lunch boxes.

There are also female commenters on Weibo who claim they can eat much more than their male colleagues. “Just give me the male version,” one female user wrote: “I’ll eat that meal instead.”

This is the second time this month that initiatives launched in relation to China’s anti food waste campaign receive online backlash.

A restaurant in Changsha triggered a storm of criticism earlier this month after placing two scales at its entrance and asking customers to to enter their measurements into an app that would then suggest menu items based on their weight. The restaurant later apologized for encouraging diners to weigh themselves.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

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

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