A Tmall flagship fruit store in China is facing a scandal after it reportedly falsely labeled some domestic yellow-skinned dragon fruit as being produced in Colombia in order to increase its price.
Yellow dragon fruit is quite rare in China. Thus, it is very appealing to consumers, who view the fruit as "mysterious" and "rare", reported Jiaodong Online. Being an imported item only made it more attractive.
The store had priced the fruit at 248 Yuan per kilogram (around US$35).
The Market Supervision Bureau of Yantai, a city in Shandong, China, has since launched an investigation into the case.
During its investigation, the bureau found that the store had sourced the dragon fruit from Shanghai, not Colombia as was claimed.
The store said it had not inspected the purchase. Nor had it recorded the supplier's name, address, or contact information, etc., according to the publication.
Moreover, they could not provide records of import quarantine of the fruits.
The store had mislabeled the dragon fruit on purpose to raise sales, the publication indicated.
It has now received a heavy penalty, it added.
Offenders to be held responsible, says Chinese Food Safety Law
According to the Food Safety Law of the People's Republic of China: “labels and instructions for food and food additives shall not contain false content, and shall not involve disease prevention and treatment functions.
"Producers will be held responsible for the contents of labels and instructions.”
It adds that "Food and food additives that fail to comply with the contents of their labels and instructions are not marketable."
According to the People's Republic of China Consumer Protection Law, People's Republic of China Product Quality Law and other relevant regulations: products that are illegally produced and sold will be confiscated.
Offenders will need to pay a fine equal to the cost of goods illegally produced and sold.
If there is illegal income, the illegal income will be confiscated. If the circumstances are serious, its business license will be revoked. Offenders should also compensate the consumers according to their requests. The amount of compensation should be three times the value of services or goods received.
Still, such blatant acts of providing fake product information have existed for a long time in the current market.
For example, when the ChinaFruitPortal.com editor searched “Colombian dragon fruit” in a famous Chinese e-commerce site, she found quite a few products matching the description.
A legal expert said that if someone illegally smuggles foreign fruits into the country, the situation would be more serious. In fact, smuggling a large value of such fruits would constitute a criminal crime.