By Benjamin Cost
A recent test of local milk tea and fresh juice samples conducted by the Shanghai Commission of Consumer Rights and Interests Protection revealed alarmingly high levels of bacteria. Out of 40 specimens, 12 fresh juice samples were found to contain large amounts of some bacteria types while 16 milk tea samples tested positive for high levels of E. coli, a microbe infamous for causing severe diarrhea or lā dùzi, as it is referred to locally. And you thought you only had to stay away from unwashed fruit and tap water.
Two culprits unfortunate enough to be called out by name in Shanghai Daily were a My-Girl outlet in Zhabei District selling milk tea, and watermelon juice from a Jack-Hut in Putuo District. (That’s what they get for naming their restaurant after the two franchises notorious for e. coli lawsuits, Jack-In-the-Box and Pizza Hut!)
According to experts, the problem stemmed from several related factors. First off, in general milk tea and fresh juice are easily contaminated as their raw ingredients often harbor high levels of bacteria. Secondly, China has no unified standards for these types of products, so while fresh juice from one stand might quench your thirst, the same drink from another stall would make you feel like niagara falls without the scenic view.
As the commission observed, “Nationally, authorities have not decided which governmental department should be in charge of the fresh juice market, thus leaving supervision basically non-existent.”
Great, another thing to add to the already mile-long expat “shits-list.”