Taiwanese celebrity Jimmy Lin embroiled in health drink promotion controversy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 November, 2013, 5:07pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 November, 2013, 8:06pm

Controversial popular science writer and blogger Fang Zhouzi has launched a campaign against Taiwanese celebrity Jimmy Lin Chih-ying over health claims made in a new beverage promotion in mainland China.

Fang is known for attacking all things he considers fake, from academic fraud to spurious celebrity claims, but has also been slated by his own critics for being self-righteous and attention seeking.

Fang’s latest “anti-fake” campaign targets Taiwanese celebrity Jimmy Lin, a singer, movie star and professional racing car driver, whom Fang accuses of making false claims when promoting an unlicensed health drink product in mainland China.

The bottled-drink which was released last week has been intensively promoted as containing skin enhancing collagen protein components.

“I believe the collagen drink is only a supplementary drink – it does not meet government standards for health certification,” Fang said on his Tencent microblog account. “Even if it eventually receives government certification, it is still a fake product in scientific terms because consuming collagen cannot make people healthier in any way,” he said.

Fang also claims the company does not have a licence to sell the drink.

The product at the centre of the controversy appears to be carefully targeted at Lin’s fans. It consists of a case containing 30 50ml bottles of “fruit-flavoured beverage”, a USB drive with Lin’s latest song and “a diary” of skin care advice from Lin.

The case sells for 1,080 yuan (HK$1,365) on online shopping website tmall.com. As of Tuesday afternoon, 489 units have been sold according to the data availabe on the website.

Responding to Fang’s allegations, Ibelieve Bio-technology Enterprise on Tuesday conceded in a statement that the company had yet to be officially registered with the Shanghai Administration for Industry & Commerce.

The statement said the product had been jointly developed by Ibelieve Bio-technology Enterprise and Shanghai Grape King Enterprises, a Taiwanese health food company, and reassured the public that the product was manufactured according to national standards. However, it failed to address the claims made about its health benefits.

Shanghai Grape King told Modern Express on Monday that it was the manufacturer but it was not involved with distribution and sales. The company declined to comment on the issue in a telephone inquiry on Tuesday, saying all relevant questions about the product should be addressed to Ibelieve.

For the past week, Lin has been promoting the product intensely on China’s twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging website where he boasts over 35 million followers.

“A bottle every morning … revives my skin, making it brighter and more flexible,” Lin wrote in a blog post that had drawn over 4,000 reposts.

A promotional video on the company’s official website shows Lin dressed in a white robe with a group of young men in lab coats in a laboratory. The video promotes the concept of rejuvenating one’s skin.

Fang also scoffed at the official website for referring to the Taiwanese celebrity as Dr Lin, pointing out that Lin only graduated from art school and never acquired a doctoral degree.