People often joke that beers they dislike taste like urine. In the case of the prominent Chinese lager Tsingtao, one batch of its brew can perhaps lay to that claim in an unusually literal way — after video of a worker urinating into one of its tanks went viral in China this month, presumably forcing a lot of the brew's regular drinkers to do a spit take.
Tsingtao representatives jumped into action, CNBC reported, claiming they'd isolated the tank's contents. Online, reactions have been divisive, with commenters either posting messages of support for the company or forswearing the beer, which is China's second biggest brewery, with a titanic 16 percent market share there.
The trouble started last week, when the video started making the rounds online. CNBC reports that it hit the Chinese social media platform Weibo, where it quickly went viral and garnered millions of views. The footage appears to show a worker scrambling into a tank at one of the brewery's facilities in Shandong, a province on the Yellow Sea, and then peeing on piles of raw malt. Tsingtao fans, apologies in advance.
A video clip showed someone urinating in the warehouse containing raw material for Tsingtao Beer went viral on Chinese social media. Regulators of Pingdu County, Qingdao, have started an investigation.
A bearish news for Tsingtao Beer(SH600600).#China #Tsingtao pic.twitter.com/sani5QL2Vx
— CN Wire (@Sino_Market) October 20, 2023
The video is truly disgusting and may make you think twice about your drinking habits, like some upset beer drinkers in China. Despite the bad press, though, drinking beer contaminated with urine probably won't harm the human body, especially if it involves a relatively small amount, according to many medical experts, and the amount is nominal if diluted in a large vat of beer, as in presumably what would have happened in the Tsingtao facility (although, again, the company says it removed the tainted malt from the supply.)
Urine, which contains mostly water and then various waste compounds, has even been touted as a therapeutic drink in various cultures. It's thought that urine is mostly sterile, but can harbor bacteria and other pathogens, which is why doctors advise against drinking it.
But even so, you'd be forgiven for feeling grossed out.
The good news? Most beverages made at large breweries like Tsingtao are tested for microbes and pasteurized to get rid of any bacteria, unless otherwise noted on the bottle.
Getting back to the Tsingtao scandal, local police have reportedly detained the pissy worker and the person who took the video, though there's some confusion in Chinese media over whether the people involved in the incident were employed by the brewery or were outside workers. One source also alleged that the incident did not happen at a Tsingtao raw materials warehouse but instead at a logistics facility — though from a brand standpoint, the damage was clearly done.
Police have said they'll release more information as soon as they get to the bottom of this incident. But most importantly, will people remember this when they belly up to a bar in China? That's as cloudy as a pint of badly made lager.
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