The Chinese food industry is once again under scrutiny following a video that went viral last week. The footage, which has amassed tens of millions of views worldwide, allegedly shows a worker at the Tsingtao beer factory in China urinating into a tank believed to contain raw ingredients. This incident has sparked renewed fears and concerns about the hygiene standards of Chinese-made food products, particularly among South Korean consumers.
Tsingtao Brewery, one of China’s leading beer producers and exporters, confirmed that the video was shot at its No. 3 brewery. The company was quick to involve the police in investigating the incident. However, it has not succeeded in quelling the rising anxiety among international consumers.
South Korean citizens, in particular, are expressing significant concerns. While both the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and the local importer of Tsingtao beer have assured the public that the products imported into Korea are not linked with the factory in question, many remain unconvinced. The factory in the video reportedly produces beer exclusively for the Chinese domestic market. However, for many South Korean consumers, the core issue is not about the specific factory but about the broader quality control and hygiene practices at Tsingtao.
Think twice before drinking Tsingtao beer.
This video is circulating that appears to show a worker peeing into the tank at this Chinese factory.
Any thoughts on a new name for the beer? pic.twitter.com/k2zroOzBPI
— TheMekon_Venus (@TheMekon_Venus) October 24, 2023
This is not the first time Chinese-made food products have been under the microscope. The memory of past controversies, such as the viral video from 2021 showing unsanitary kimchi production in China, still lingers in many minds. Moreover, the shocking 2008 scandal where melamine was added to infant milk powder, leading to the poisoning of 300,000 children and the death of six, further underscores the need for strict quality control measures.
Statistics from 2021 highlight that a significant portion of products deemed unfit for import into Korea come from China. According to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, 33.2% of questionable quality products were from China, a figure far higher than from any other nation.
The increasing reliance on Chinese food imports, especially in the wake of high inflation post-COVID-19, adds to the growing concerns. Korean imports of Chinese-made kimchi, for instance, have surged by 20.7% in the first five months of this year.
Experts believe that one of the root causes of these hygiene concerns lies in the location of many Chinese food factories. Many are situated in rural areas, known for their substandard living and working conditions. Kim Yong Gil, a former law professor at Wonkwang University, pointed out on a CBS radio appearance that state oversight in these areas is often lacking. Furthermore, individual awareness and practices concerning hygiene can be relatively low in these regions.
Incidents like the Tsingtao video serve as a stark reminder of the importance of trust in the food industry, and it is the responsibility of both producers and regulators to ensure that this trust is never compromised.