In the soup

In the soup

The Chinese are in a froth over Japanese broth. The ramen-noodle chain Ajisen has faced a wave of criticism in local media over the quality of its soup. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the food franchise has had to apologise over misleading information about calcium content – last Thursday it admitted its published calculation had been too high, as it was based on the amount of calcium in its soup concentrates rather than in the diluted forms served in its restaurants.

It also confirmed media reports that it had been fined by Shanghai’s food safety regulator last year for using sorbitol in its noodles – but said it had ceased the practice.

However, the ramen purveyor bristled at reports in China Daily that it used “cheap powders” to make its broth, insisting they were ground up from real pig bones using advanced Japanese technology.

The Japanese restaurant chain will be worried by the impact of the spat on its brand. However, executives in Tokyo can claim that the accused party is Ajisen (China), the franchise-holder for the chain in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong (its major shareholder is Chinese businesswoman, Poon Wai). The impact on her China business of the media onslaught has been severe – so much so the Hong Kong listed stock of Ajisen (China) collapsed 50% in the past month, reports the Journal.

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