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A Chinese food influencer’s videos showing how easy it is to replace key ingredients in common foods with additives and synthetic items aim to expose China’s food industry’s shortcomings. Photo: SCMP composite

This man is one of China’s most outspoken food influencers with millions of fans – he exposes synthetic products like fake steak and milk tea without dairy

  • A food influencer in China is causing controversy with videos showing how the quality of manufactured foods are diluted with additives to cut costs
  • In one popular video he showed a method of making jelly using pigment powder, water and a seaweed extract but without any fruit

A Chinese food influencer has drawn millions of fans with his synthetic creations showing how China’s food industry cuts corners to lower costs, but critics say he is scaring people and tarnishing the whole sector.

Xin Jifei from Liaoning in northeastern China has 8.3 million Douyin followers of his videos that show how food manufacturers use additives and synthetic materials to boost profits and cut costs while lowering quality, Jiupai News reported.

For example, in one video he demonstrates how to make fake jelly using edible flavouring, powder dye, water and the seaweed extract carrageenan but without adding any fruit.

In another clip, Xin makes a type of inexpensive sausage commonly sold at street food stalls. He mixes flour, starch, oil, spice powder, dye and carrageenan but no meat.

He also showed a process for making beef steaks from chopped-up pieces of beef and a chemical agent that makes the meat stick together and resemble actual whole steaks.

“You told me you bought a steak for only 5 yuan (69 US cents). You think you have profited at other people’s expense? You don’t know it’s full of hi-tech additives,” said Xin in the video.

In another video about beef jerky, Xin uses sliced chicken, salt, edible essence, pigment and beef tallow to mimic the flavour.

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“You were happy that you bought beef jerky at only 30 yuan per 500 grams. But do you know the market price for raw beef is 40 yuan per 500 grams? Guess how could it happen that your beef jerky is cheaper than the raw beef?” he asked.

Other additive scandals exposed by Xin included milk tea containing no milk, fake honey synthesised from sugar, water, malt syrup, and flavouring, and a bird’s nest soup with no nest in it.

As Xin’s videos have become more popular on mainland social media, he has also started to attract critics.

The food industry and some rival bloggers have accused Xin of scaremongering, however his fans remain loyal and supportive. Photo: Douyin

The China Food Newspaper, administered by the quasi-government organisation China Light Industry Association, criticised Xin in August for “selling anxiety”, “promoting a theory that anything cheap is evil” and “disseminating illegal methods”.

A blogger with the alias Bi Ge Guan Can Yin who works in the food industry said Xin is trying to grab attention through scaremongering.

“His videos are an insult to cuisine companies which abide by the law,” he said.

But many internet users have supported Xin.


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“I think Xin Jifei is telling us not to trust those small workshops without business licences or product qualification licences. We shouldn’t buy fake or shabby products just because of their low price,” wrote one commenter.

“They said he is selling anxiety but I think it is the capital that got anxious. Let’s protect this blogger,” another person said.

“It’s not your fault to sell things at a low price, but cheating customers is,” Xin responded to the criticism.

Following the swell of public support for Xin in response to its critical comments, China Food Newspaper removed its online editorial about Xin.