Popular Chinese beer brewer Tsingtao has responded after a video of a worker urinating into a malt tank went viral.
The unsightly video
The video, which originally appeared online last Thursday, shows a uniformed worker climbing into a large vat of malt, where he then appears to relieve himself.
The tag on the video identifies the location of the clip as “Tsingtao beer No. 3 factory” (although perhaps No. 1 would have been a more fitting location for the incident). The plant is located in Pingdu, a city in Shandong province, China.
The video went viral on Chinese social media platform Weibo, receiving tens of millions of views, where it quickly caught the attention of Tsingtao Brewery Co.
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Tsingtao in damage control
Tsingtao has released a statement saying that the company attaches “great importance” to the video.
“We reported the incident to the police at the earliest opportunity, and public security organisations are involved in the investigation,” the statement explains.
According to the state-owned outlet National Business Daily, both the worker who allegedly urinated into the vat and the individual who filmed the incident have been detained by police.
Tsingtao assures fans of its popular beers that they can rest easy.
“At present, the batch of malt in question has been completely sealed. The company continues to strengthen its management procedures and ensure product quality,” the statement reads.
“The production and operation of the company are normal in every respect.”
‘Pee-gate’ damages Tsingtao’s brand
But Tsingtao’s reassurances might not be enough to completely renew taste for the brand’s beers.
In what has been dubbed ‘pee-gate’, many local restaurants and bars in China and Korea, where Tsingtao is the country’s number one beer import, have stopped serving the popular beer.
Tsingtao’s share price fell from 81.86 yuan on 19 October to a low of 75.60 yuan on 23 October on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. It has since rebounded to 80.45 yuan.
The incident provoked a number of outraged responses from Chinese Weibo users.
“Is it the first time, though?” asked one worried user.
“Good thing I don’t drink beer – but it’s unimaginable if this brand is finished because of this,” commented another.
“I’ve always said the beer here is like horse pee,” quipped one user. “Turns out I was wrong.”
Tsingtao is China’s second largest brewery. Sold in more than 50 countries worldwide, its products account for 15 percent of domestic market share, and represent half of China’s national beer exports.
Read about the campaign released by Heineken, another beer brewer, to encourage product nicknames here.
Cover image attributed to BBC.