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Tsingtao apologizes in wake of urine scandal

China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-03 09:17

Weathering an ongoing corporate reputation crisis, Tsingtao Brewery said on Wednesday that the worker who was filmed urinating into a large malt container at one of the company's plants in Pingdu, a county-level city in Shandong province, has been detained by the police.

The Chinese beer brand apologized and said in a statement that it has acknowledged the management loopholes and pledged to implement measures to standardize the production process and enhance personnel management to prevent such incidents from happening again.

"The company has strictly implemented a quality control system by employing fully enclosed dumping vehicles for transporting raw materials to avoid contact between people and ingredients and we have upgraded the monitoring system with artificial intelligence technology to consolidate effective monitoring of the whole process," said the company statement.

An investigation team comprised of local police and market regulatory authorities revealed the details of the incident on Wednesday, saying that a loader surnamed Cui who had been hired by a third-party, urinated inside a truck transporting raw materials while it was unloading malt at the Tsingtao Brewery No. 3 factory on Oct 19.

On Oct 22, Cui was detained for intentional property damage, and the batch of malt in question, weighing about 400 metric tons, was completely sealed and disposed of under supervision, guaranteeing that it won't be used in production.

Shares in Tsingtao Brewery continued to fall after the statements were issued, declining 2.25 percent and 1.21 percent respectively on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges on Thursday.

While some internet users said it's correct for the company to punish those accountable, other netizens questioned the subcontracted services, expressing concerns over the quality and safety of the production and calling for financial punishment and business restriction.

One netizen on microblogging platform Sina Weibo pointed out that punishment for food safety violations in European countries was much more severe. For example, in 2013 a horse meat scandal erupted in Europe when food labeled as beef was found to contain various amounts of horse meat. After the exposure, several European countries tested 2,250 processed beef samples marketed as containing beef. The business permit of a French company was revoked for knowingly selling horse meat as beef, and three English people were arrested for fraud. The Dutch government later raised the maximum fine on enterprises involved in food safety issues from 4,500 euros ($4,800) to 810,000 euros.

Another netizen emphasized the importance of whole-process supervision by citing the production chain of eggs in Germany. Eggs sold in the country are imprinted with a specific serial number recording detailed information about where the chickens were raised and what they were fed.

Established in 1903, Tsingtao is one of the best-known beer brands in the country.

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