Fake Wine Scandal In China Lowers Product Safety Credibility
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As we reported earlier this week, fake wine is now the latest in a spate of fake and toxic food products in China. Several major wineries in China’s premier grape-growing region were found to be producing wines with fake labels–and some bottles didn’t even contain real wine. The scandal could leave a deep wound on the credibility of the country’s growing wine industry.
Chinese officials accused five wineries in the Changli district of Hebei province of producing fake wines last week. Some of the wines apparently don’t have fermented grape juice—just sugar water mixed with chemicals, like coloring agents and flavoring. Some were labeled as famous brands.
Chinese state media reported authorities arrested six people, shut down three wineries, froze corporate accounts, and seized more than 5000 boxes of fake wine.
One of the companies, Jiahua had reportedly sold about 2.4-million bottles of wine per year.
A spokesman for Walmart in Beijing told Chinese media that suspect wine bottles had already been removed from shelves.
Some experts were reported as saying the wine additives could cause headaches, irregular heart beat and cancer.
Red wine is growing in popularity among China’s middle class. Retailers place China as the world’s fifth largest export market, but many don’t have the experience to distinguish fakes. Some wine makers say some genuine Chinese wines are so poor they don’t taste any better than the counterfeits.
“I have tasted many wines of very low quality in China, which are really not good, and taste very odd, it has to be said. And in fact they come from the same region where these counterfeits are made.”
Customers like Yin Zuokun have changed shopping habits to avoid the frauds.
“It’s hard not to be a bit worried, but people like us choose brands we are very familiar with that we buy regularly, and will go to the supermarket or specialized shops to buy them, so we don’t have to worry.”
The wine scandal is the latest in a string of product safety breaches in China that have alarmed consumers at home and abroad and have started some criminal investigations, convictions, and executions.