The exposure by a Chinese newspaper of a family-run business that has been selling fake duck blood laced with artificial additives has brought about a fresh wave of concern among consumers in the country.
Earlier this week, the People’s Daily broke the story of a husband and wife who had been adding indelible dye and printing agents to make the cheaper chicken blood solid and more appealing before selling it to market in Jiangsu Province.
The couple make 1,000 kilos of the fake duck’s blood, which is a delicacy in China, the newspaper revealed.
Users of Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform, reacted with anger after the People’s Daily raised awareness of the story through its official account.
"If people's hearts have become fake, what genuine food can we expect in the market anyway?" Chinese news service Xinhua quoted one Weibo user as saying in despair of food quality in China.
Confidence in China’s food market has been low after a number of high-profile scandals have rocked consumer perceptions. In particular, one of these, the 2008 melamine-tainted baby formula case, which caused the deaths of at least six infants and made 300,000 ill, is still fresh in the Chinese memory.
In an effort to stem widespread concern by the public, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in March that the government would enforce food laws and regulations more strictly, and pledged greater monitoring and tougher punishments for unscrupulous producers and negligent officials.
Since then, China's food watchdogs have issued a raft of policies to increase food standards, and have made draft amendments that will triple the fines for severe food safety violations, with people jailed for such crimes will be banned forever from the food industry.
“But illegal manufacturers continue to stick their necks out to stealthily make unqualified food and rake in more profits,” wrote the China Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist government, in an effort to quell public concern.
Earlier this month, a couple in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region was detained by police on suspicion of adding alum, a banned additive, to the salted food they sell.
One of the suspects said the pair had jumped on the bandwagon because "others were doing it”, according to local police.