Planet China

Completely nuts

Consumers in China are defending their rights with ever-increasing relish. A recent claim against Disney in Shanghai was a case in point – particularly as it led to a change in company policy (see WiC467).

Perhaps inspired by the case, a 30 year-old man from Zhejiang province has just taken the beverage firm Six Walnuts to court. Surnamed Zhang, he is a fan of a TV talent show called The Brain, which aims to find people with exceptional minds. Six Walnuts is a key sponsor, and runs regular adverts that recommend viewers should quaff more of the brand’s walnut tonics. Zhang took the advice, downing two boxes worth of the supplement. But after looking through several books on traditional Chinese medicine, he concluded that walnuts had no medicinal effect on the brain and that the company was misleading its customers.

In fairness, it’s a common belief among Chinese that walnuts are mind boosters (possibly because they resemble the cortex, or outer layer of the brain). Yet after refusing several mediation attempts, Zhang insisted on taking Six Walnuts and a local supermarket to court. It did him no good:

the judge ruled that Six Walnuts’ slogans didn’t breach consumer protection laws. Moreover, she said she had gone through The Compendium of Materia Medica (published in 1578) and found in it a clear suggestion that walnuts are indeed a booster to brainpower.

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