Be wary when things are too good to be true
The China Post news staffOne of the ironies in this age of superlatives and instant gratifications is that when something is good it is probably a cause for concern.
August 27, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
A bakery chain was recently embroiled in a PR (and possible legal) crisis after its advertisements touting the use of all-natural ingredients came under intense scrutiny. A Hong Kong blogger raised a red flag on Aug. 17, saying that the aromas of several of the bakery's fruit and coffee-flavored breads are simply too strong and too long-lasting to be natural. After initial denials, the bakery came clean and apologized for using flavoring essences on Aug. 23 (a day after the Taipei City Government slammed a NT$180,000 fine on the bakery for false advertising). The bakery declared a three-day shutdown on Saturday, the same day Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin called for a fraud investigation, which is ongoing.
While the flavoring essences involved are all legal for food use, the event once again showed the inconvenient truth behind a food industry that is caught between rising customer awareness of healthy eating and the extraordinarily good tastes that usually don't come with it. In a more serious case, a toxic industrial compound (maleic acid) was found to have been added to the starch used to make tapioca balls for bubble milk tea and other starch-based foods to increase chewiness. At the time, chemical and food experts warned customers to be wary of foods that are unusually chewy or are able to stay chewy for an extra long time.
But food is not the only aspect of life where extraordinary benefits should be greeted with doubt. In the ongoing corruption trials of Bo Xilai, mainland China's once high-flying politician showed the lengths he would go to in order to protect himself. Bo lost all the support he had for his family before his fall, calling his wife a lunatic and his former police chief a vile liar. While the authenticity of a famous story in which Bo punched his disgraced father as a Red Guard in a “struggle session” of the Cultural Revolution is disputed, Bo's words at the trial show he is capable of similar ruthlessness. According to mainland and Hong Kong media, however, Bo is still widely popular in Chongqing, where he served as the party chief from 2007 to 2012. A reporter from a Beijing magazine said after a two-week visit to the province: “You can't find a citizen who has a bad word for Bo here.”
The Hong Kong Apple Daily reported that people generally remember Bo for his strong personality and effectiveness. A local taxi driver was quoted by the newspaper as praising Bo for solving the city's lack of natural gas by simply buying the fuel, despite its high price. Others recalled warmly the order he brought to the city, where no gangsters could be seen on the street under his rule.