Chinese consumer protection activist issues warning about glazing additive used on Ecuadorian shrimp

Social media star and anti-counterfeit activist Wang Hai's warnings have the potential to disrupt Ecuador's shrimp exports to China.
Chinese blogger and anti-counterfeit activist Wang Hai
Chinese blogger and anti-counterfeit activist Wang Hai | Photo courtesy of Wang Hai
4 Min

A consumer protection focused Chinese social media star has warned about the potential danger of glazing additives he found on samples of shrimp imported from Ecuador.

The popular blogger, Wang Hai, said he found traces of sodium metabisulfite on shrimp he tested after buying it from e-commerce site Dongfang Zhen Xuan, owned by Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed East Buy Holding. The chemical is used by shrimp firms to give their products a fresher appearance.

Wang, who has made a name for himself through previous anti-counterfeiting crusades, issued his warning on 19 February on a program streamed on Chinese social media, then did several follow-up interviews with Chinese media. Some consumers have subsequently sought refunds from Dongfang Zhen Xuan, claiming the online retailer is guilty of defrauding consumers by selling shrimp that doesn’t meet Chinese food safety standards. 

Following the revelations, Chinese Customs authorities at Tianjin port returned several containers of Ecuadorian shrimp to their unnamed senders.

The use of additives is regulated by China’s National Food Safety Standard for the Use of Food Additives (GB2760-2014). Yet the use of additives and glazes on shrimp has been commonplace in the Chinese seafood industry, and incidences are frequently reported in local news outlets. Anti-bacterial agents like malachite green have also been used in Chinese aquaculture.

East Buy Holding, which was previously focused on the private education sector – until Chinese regulators intervened to curb paid tuition programs for school children – responded to Wang Hai’s claims by saying it conducts regular testing of shrimp products sold through its channels.

Spain-headquartered shrimp distributor Roda International …

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