Mainland soy milk drinkers up in arms

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 August, 2011, 12:00am

Two popular restaurant chains have been accused of selling soy milk made from liquid concentrate or soybean powder, dealing another blow to the already shaky confidence in the country's food industry.

Zhen Kungfu, known for their dishes such as congee, told The Southern Metropolis News: 'Our soy milk is made from soy milk powder'.

And Yon Ho Soya Milk, another popular Chinese-style fast food chain, confirmed to the South China Morning Post that some of their milk was made from concentrate.

Lin Zhicheng, a spokesman for Yon Ho, said about 20 of its restaurants in Shanghai began serving soy milk made from concentrated powder this year. 'The rest of the branches in Shanghai and other cities all serve freshly ground milk,' he said.

There were about 400 Yon Ho Soya Milk restaurants across the country, Lin said.

The revelations came amid a public outcry of 'being cheated' by fast-food restaurant KFC, which was found to be serving concentrated soy milk powder. A picture of several boxes of soy milk powder, piled in front of a KFC restaurant in Guangdong, was posted online last week and caused an uproar.

A subsequent KFC statement said that processing freshly ground soy milk might result in problems with meeting the quality and safety standards for all of the chain's more than 3,000 restaurants in China.

Although none of these companies claimed that their soy milk was freshly ground, domestic consumers still feel cheated.

'Even soybean milk sold at street food stalls is freshly boiled. But such expensive soybean milk at KFC is a mixture of water and powder?' one consumer wrote in an online post. Another post read: 'From their TV advertisements, I have never seen any implications the soy milk is made from powder. I was totally misled.'

Li Shuguang, a professor with Fudan University's School of Public Health, said the powder-made soy milk was 'not the pure soybean milk we make at home', noting that food additives must be added to the powder-made milk to make it rich, stable and fresh.

These fast food chains are the latest casualties of a scandal that can be traced to Japanese-style noodle chain Ajisen Ramen, which has been accused of misleading the public about the calcium content in its noodle soup. The Hong Kong-listed restaurant has seen its share price plummet more than 34 per cent from the controversy.

The franchise has been accused of using concentrates and flavouring powders to make its soup base, instead of boiling actual pork bone stock, as it claims in advertisements.

Public confidence in the company tanked after its claim that its soup contains 'four times the calcium content of milk and 10 times that of meat' was denied by a university that the company said had issued the findings.

China Agricultural University said it had never been in direct contact with the company or offered consultation services, and officials demanded that the company stop using the university's name.

5.50 yuan

The cost of a cup of KFC's hot mellow soybean milk. A cold cup costs 6.50 yuan. Some consumers feel this is too expensive



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