Agricultural universities urged to act

2023-12-22 17:40:41China Daily Editor : Mo Honge ECNS App Download

Unauthorized advertising of snacks threatening institutions' reputations

Agricultural universities are being urged to report to market regulators suspected unauthorized advertising of snacks in order to safeguard their reputations. The move comes after a number of colleges denied any involvement with popular snacks sold online that falsely claimed collaboration with the institutions.

A recent report by China Central Television revealed that investigations by the Shanghai Consumer Council found several popular online snacks misleadingly suggested ties with agricultural colleges.

Despite these claims, some of the snacks failed to meet nutrient standards.

For instance, the "90 Nongda" vegetable roll sold online asserted that the Northeast Agricultural University's College of Food Science provided "technological support".

However, tests conducted by the consumer council showed significant discrepancies, with the protein content 25 percent lower and fat 38 percent higher than claimed on the packaging.

The university, in response, clarified that it doesn't manufacture food products and has no association with the snack's company or manufacturer.

Similarly, "Fantianwa latiao," a spicy gluten snack, claimed to be developed by Hunan Agricultural University and Hunan Academy of Agricultural Sciences. However, both institutions denied authorizing the company to use their name for promotion.

In other cases, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the Zhangjiakou Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Hebei province distanced themselves from an oat bran snack.

Jiangnan University in Jiangsu province clarified that their collaboration with a low-carbohydrate brown rice production company had ended before the product's release.

Experts noted that some snack producers exploit these agricultural institutes' reputations to create an illusion of health and quality for their products.

However, the consumer council's investigation revealed that many such products failed to live up to their promotional claims, damaging the institutes' reputations.

Shan Feiyue, a law professor at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, said that if products endorsed by agricultural institutes don't match their promotion information, it infringes on consumers' right to accurate information.

Several institutes have taken legal action against such practices. Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, for instance, reported similar behavior to market inspectors after an investigation conducted by a law firm it had engaged.

In an editorial, the China Consumer News said that academic institutes should step out of their "comfort zone" to address infringements promptly.

It suggested that institutes should openly address public concerns while simultaneously collecting evidence and reporting to market regulators.


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