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August 10, 2011

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Chain admits powder in 'fresh' soybean milk

A TAIWAN-BASED fast-food chain yesterday admitted that its "freshly ground" soybean milk is in fact made from powder.

But Yonho Soybean Milk - which has hundreds of outlets on the Chinese mainland, including many in Shanghai - insisted that its powdered soybean milk is just as nutritious as the fresh product.

Promotional posters on doors of its restaurants boast of serving "freshly ground soybean milk," but last week, consumers learned that Yonho restaurants stocked soybean milk powder.

The scandal soon spread on the Internet, with customers venting their anger and disappointment.

"The cheating hurts my feelings as I trusted them for years," said web user Li Qi, who enjoyed going to Yonho for breakfast.

Yonho sought to stress that nutritional content was the same, and said the powdered variety was more expensive to produce.

"The cost of making the powder is even higher than producing freshly made soybean milk," said the company in a statement.

Company Chairman Lin Chien-hsiung said Yonho will now promote the powder in every outlet.

"In the past, we failed to tell consumers how our soybean milk is produced, but we'll show it in our restaurants within a week," he said.

Yonho also said its milk is free of chemicals.

Some nutritionists, however, are sceptical.

"Soybean milk powder can be stored for a long time, thus preservatives must be added," said Li Shuguang, a professor with the School of the Public Health at Fudan University.

"Preservatives are bad for people's health, while freshly made soybean milk should be free of chemicals."

Yonho has offered 1 million yuan (US$155,506) to any customer finding preservatives in its milk.


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