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Why have ice creams suddenly become 'assassins'?

Date : 2022-07-08 16:53:03

A screenshot taken from Zhong Xue Gao website.

Ice cream lovers beware! "Ice cream assassins" are on the loose and you could end up being "stabbed unawares" by their prices. The unusually high price of ice creams has become a hot topic for discussion on social networking sites this summer. The so-called assassins are actually some premium ice cream brands.

Social networking sites also erupted when someone recently posted a video showing an ice cream of the Zhong Xue Gao brand remaining rock solid even after being left at room temperature (31 C) for an hour. Yet another video showed an ice cream of the same brand not melting even after being exposed to the flame of a lighter, triggering concerns about how safe it was for consumption.

In a statement issued on Sina Weibo on July 6, the company said that its Salt Coconut ice cream, which is at the center of attention because of the viral videos, consists of 35.8 percent milk, 19.2 percent light cream, 11.2 percent coconut milk, 7.4 percent condensed milk and 6 percent whole milk powder. Therefore, more than 40 percent of it is solid matter, 20 percent higher than the national standard.

Regarding carrageenan, the company reiterated what is common knowledge, that it is a natural extract from red algae and widely used as a thickening agent in ice creams and beverages.

From the time it was established, China-based Zhong Xue Gao has been dubbed the "Hermes of ice cream" and holds a prime market position. However, it was twice fined by Shanghai's market watchdog in 2019 for making false claims in its advertisements — such as labeling ordinary raisins as premium level, claiming it uses Japanese tea leaves when it actually uses domestic ones and wrongly claiming its popsicle sticks meet infant use standards.

Many ice cream manufacturers employ marketing gimmicks such as collaborating with other brands and the entertainment industry — things that appeal to the younger generation — to make their products more appealing. However, if it is these publicity stunts and not the raw materials used or production and labor costs that are driving up ice cream costs, then consumers have a right to know the truth before they spend a dime.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

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