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Ice cream brand faces heat from netizens

By XING YI in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-07-07 07:27

A video grab shows a partially melted Chicecream ice cream after it was left out in a temperature of about 25 C for 40 minutes. QIANG JUN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Shanghai's market watchdog on Wednesday said it will look into food safety concerns raised by netizens with regards to upmarket Chinese ice cream brand Chicecream, known as Zhong Xue Gao in Chinese.

The concerns stem from a series of videos published online that show the ice cream melts extremely slowly, raising fears that its ingredients could potentially be harmful.

Founded in Shanghai in 2018, Chicecream describes itself as an unreservedly Chinese ice cream brand, with the shape of its ice cream resembling a Chinese roof tile.

The Shanghai Administration of Market Supervision said it had noticed the public concerns and has handed the case to related departments. It is currently waiting on the results of scientific tests on the products.

The company issued a statement on Wednesday in response to the concerns, saying that its ice cream products meet national standards and the additive that impedes the ice cream melting, carrageenan, is an extract from red seaweed and has been widely used in other ice creams.

There are 0.032 grams of carrageenan in a 78-gram Chicecream ice cream, which complies with national safety standards for food additives, the statement said.

Zhong Kai, an expert with the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association, told Beijing News that using emulsifiers is normal practice for ice cream makers, as they can slow the melting process and enhance taste.

Chicecream specified the percentages of ingredients used in its product, which includes milk, 35 percent; cream, 19 percent; coconut cream, 11 percent; and sweetened condensed milk, 7 percent.

"We think it is not a scientific way to judge the quality of an ice cream by heating it," the company said. "And we will cooperate with related authorities and welcome the public and media to investigate this issue and popularize science."

Added to the quality concerns from consumers is the product's price, which many have complained is far more expensive than other ice creams stocked in the same location in display freezers.

Zong Ning, a marketing expert, said that many consumers have picked up the product without realizing its high price tag and then felt cheated at the checkout.

"Haagen-Dazs is also expensive, but it is usually sold in a separate display freezer, while Chicecream is mixed with other popsicles in one big fridge where price labels of each ice cream are usually hard to distinguish," he said on Sina Weibo.

Market inspectors in Shanghai's Fengxian district said they have cautioned shop owners to make sure their price tags are properly displayed.

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