Food safety in China has always been a concern for many people. Recently, it has become a hot topic of discussion on the mainland.

The Haitian Flavor Industry has become the focus of controversy for implementing “double standards” in its domestic and overseas products.

This stemmed from the video “Synthetic mixed soy sauce” posted online early in September. 

Haiti is a long-standing soy sauce producer in mainland China. It is also the largest manufacturer of soy sauce in the world. Its products can be found on the shelves in many countries worldwide, including the U.S. and Japan.

The video’s owner is the hot blogger with 9 million followers – “Xin Jifei”.

Xin is famous for his short videos that reveal China’s “black” food technology. For example, canned bird’s nests bottled with bleached gelatin and high fructose syrup, or how to make fake honey, or fake beef balls from ingredients unrelated to beef such as pork, frozen chicken, soy protein powder, beef flavor powder, flour malt, and caramel color. …. His videos attract hundreds of thousands of likes, and netizens call him the “Breaking bad” guy. 

Xin’s content is not directly related to Haitian products. But it has raised the alarm about food safety. The soy sauce story goes so far that it involves Haitian as well. This makes Haitian nervous when the company’s stock price has sharply declined over the past two years.

Haitian has made two consecutive announcements in response to the incident. 

For the first time on September 30, Haitian responded that the use of food additives in all of their products always complies with the requirements of relevant standards and regulations in the country. Also, the short videos, used public concern to create anxiety and panic, and the food additives were demonized. China’s food safety was made low. Labeling accounts aim to take advantage of this to get views. This company also gave the names of some user accounts it wants to prosecute.

However, this move by Haitian failed to alleviate the concerns of domestic consumers as they continued to suspect the company of double standards.

Netizens then posted that soy sauce sold in Japan is made with water, soybeans, salt, sugar, and wheat. In contrast, domestic soy sauce sold in China has many additives including sodium glutamate, sucralose, and sodium benzoate, to name a few.

On October 4, Haitian Flavor again issued a statement that the food additives are legally recognized and widely used with different standards in each country. The comparison that foreign products have little or products with additives are not good is a misunderstanding.

Haitian also said that some netizens tried to use the so-called double standard to incite conflicts between consumers and Chinese brand businesses.

Haitian’s response did not help ease the public’s concerns, as the company described netizens’ suspicions as confrontational.

In addition, the China Spices Association on October 5 issued a statement supporting Haitian Flavor. This association believes that the spread of negative rumors affects their business activities and agrees with the legal prosecution of those who have caused harm to the business.

It is worth noting that Haitian has also been involved in drafting several national standards for spices.

“Nanfang Metropolis Daily” reported on this issue on October 5. Haitian’s name was found on the national standard public service platform as the “Main drafting unit​.”

According to Sohu Finance, sodium benzoate used in the Haitian Flavor sauce was listed as a first-class carcinogen and phased out worldwide.

According to reports and investigations, Haitian Flavor still uses sodium benzoate in mid-range products. While the sodium benzoate additive costs 0.5 for each 16 ounce bottle of soy sauce, changing to a safer additive like potassium sorbate will cost three times that amount.

Currently, Haitian Flavor is one of the largest spice manufacturers in China and one of the first food companies to be honored by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

According to public information, in the 1950s, the CCP launched a “public-private partnership” campaign against ethnic entrepreneurs, forcibly confiscating their businesses and nationalizing private property. 25 Ancient Sauce Gardens in Foshan were renamed Foshan Zhujiang Soy Sauce Factory due to the merger and reorganization of the public-private partnership. At the end of 1994, the state-owned enterprise in Foshan was restructured, and the company name was designated as Foshan Haitian Seasoning Food Co., Ltd.

“Haitian” has been listed for more than 8 years on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, and its market value skyrocketed to 49.7 billion yuan (about $6.93 billion) when it was first listed. The company’s revenue exceeded $3.3 billion in 2021.

Xin said that the attack of some media platforms made him ask to cancel his account.
According to RFA, the customer service director of the video platform Douyin sent a notice to Xin about the platform’s disagreement with his content; even China Food News accused him of selling anxiety, promoting the crime of greed, and propagating criminal methods.

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