Shocking food scandals in China were mostly domestic affairs, but government agencies now focus on foreign firms, tells retail analyst Paul French in Ethical Corporation. With some success, the empire strikes back.
However, following several minor scandals involving Chinese brand bottled waters, it just so happened that the AQSIQ investigation only found foreign brands to have dangerous levels of nitrate – including the French brands Evian and Volvic – and no domestic brands. Despite the media being told to report the story heavily, anecdotal evidence suggests that few Chinese consumers fell for the ruse.
We’ve also seen the Wal-Mart organic pork scandal – another “strike back” campaign by Beijing. Wal-Mart did mislabel pork and this was widely reported. But when local journalists found the same problem in domestic supermarket stores they were told not to report that by the government. That’s “strike back”.
The scandals keep coming – benzopyrene-laced sesame oil and cadmium-stuffed squid, for example. Foreign brands are now looking for strategies to avoid being caught up in both food scares and “strike back” campaigns.
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