Beijing, Sep 11 (EFE).- The recent revelations of a fraud involving the substitution of beef and lamb for duck meat in a university cafeteria in Hohhot, province of Inner Mongolia, caused concern in China about the possibility that this could be occurring on a broader scale in the food industry.
Five food service contractors at the university cafeteria were fined CNY270,000 ($37,033.99) after it was discovered that they were selling duck meat as well as beef and lamb, state newspaper China Daily reported Monday.
In addition to the fines, CNY16,374 were confiscated as “illegal income” during the operation.
Food fraud is considered a violation of the Consumer Protection Law in China, and this case became public after reports in June about meat substitution at the same university cafeteria.
The university issued an apology and pledged to improve oversight and quality of the food served. This is not an isolated case, since similar situations have been reported in different parts of the country.
The Bamu group, a well-known hot pot franchise in China issued a statement Thursday in which it said it would pay CNY8.35 million in compensation to customers who had consumed “lamb” rolls with duck in Chaodao stores.
According to the company’s statement, 8,354 tables were affected by meat substitution fraud since Janu. 15, 2023 at one of its locations in the Chaoyang district of Beijing.
In northern Hebei province, a restaurant that is part of the Zhangliang Spicy Hotpot chain was exposed by bloggers last month for selling “mutton” rolls, which instead contained pork and duck.
The chain said the restaurant involved did not know that the raw materials it purchased were of poor quality and pledged to strengthen its supply chain management.
Zhong Kai, an expert from the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association, told CCTV that “duck meat is similar to lamb in appearance, but it is cheaper. However, duck meat does not carry any health risks and is therefore not prohibited.”
A search on an electronic market showed that duck meat rolls processed with sheep fat sell for about CNY15 per kilogram, compared to lamb meat rolls that cost up to CNY120 per kilogram.
Although duck meat poses no health risks, the practice raises concerns about transparency and integrity in the Chinese food industry. EFE