Chinese police detain brewery worker who urinated in malt container

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese police have detained a worker from major beer maker Tsingtao Brewery who was filmed urinating in a malt container, a week after the incident went viral on social media and hit the company’s shares.

The incident took place on Oct. 19 at a Tsingtao factory in Pingdu, a city in the eastern province of Shandong.

The Pingdu government’s investigation team said in statement on Wednesday that the worker was detained on Oct. 22 for intentionally damaging company property.

The individual urinated into a container of malt that had just been emptied, the statement said.

Another worker noticed the incident on a dashcam and uploaded a video on short-video platform Douyin, China’s version of Tik Tok.

After the video went viral, authorities sealed all the malt affected by the incident and removed it from the production process.

The incident resonated with many Chinese consumers who have long felt uneasy about the country’s food safety standards due to a series of scandals over the past two decades.

Tsingtao, one of China’s largest breweries, said in a statement published on microblogging platform Weibo that it had adopted measures to close what it called “loopholes in the management of raw material transportation”.

These measures include fully enclosing trucks “so that there is no contact between personnel and raw materials throughout the process”, and introducing a “behaviour recognition monitoring system” in the factory that is powered by artificial intelligence.

The statements from Tsingtao and the local government went viral on Weibo, with some users saying the damage to the company’s brand was too late to reverse.

“This (incident) has done too much harm to Tsingtao,” user Silver Hook Grass wrote. “Food and beverage companies should find ways to manage the entire process (of production), otherwise a drop of urine can ruin a company.“

(Reporting by Eduardo Baptista Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)