Misleading packaging causes consumer concern

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, May 19, 2022
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Three Thai restaurants in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, are facing the possibility of punishment for selling coconut milk in bottles that looked like laundry detergent containers.

Pictures of the coconut milk in the bottles quickly went viral and stirred controversy after being shared on the internet.

Though some argued that the coconut milk tasted good, many netizens said that food packaging should not resemble items that are dangerous if ingested, such as laundry detergent.

Shen Mingtao, a florist in Nanjing, said she ordered the coconut milk last week the moment she heard about it.

"You know we young people always want to try eye-catching or even weird food," said Shen. "It looks funny when you pour the liquid out of a laundry detergent bottle and into your mouth. But it might send the wrong message to young children.

"Little kids cannot tell the difference between laundry detergent bottles and whether they contain coconut milk or a dangerous substance, so I don't think it's a good choice for restaurants to use misleading containers that might pose a danger to kids."

Similar incidents related to misleading packaging have occurred in the past.

In January, a parent in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, posted a picture online of a boy getting his stomach pumped in hospital. The boy drank some detergent that his grandparent had poured for him from a container that looked like an orange juice bottle. From the picture posted, even the detergent was the color of juice.

Li Min, a lawyer with Beijing Youheng (Nanjing) Law Firm, said that warnings or instructions must be put on products that might endanger people's safety or property.

"The shape of the beverage might cause a child with weak discernment to mistake laundry detergent for a drink," she said. "Therefore, it is required by law that the drink provider has the responsibility to warn consumers with clear warnings or signs.

"If any child drinks the beverage by mistake due to the misleading packaging, the child and the legal guardian can claim compensation from the manufacturer and the seller."

All three restaurants have ceased selling the coconut milk in laundry detergent packaging. Online food delivery platforms in Nanjing have also prohibited sales of the drink.

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