In this issue, we debunk the claims of propagandists who actively promote the narrative of uncontrolled circulation of narcotic substances in Ukraine. This includes the assertion that Chinese scientists supposedly found psychotropic substances in Ukrainian food products. To support their claims, Russians have cited an article from the Chinese publication Global Times, where they allegedly expose the “dreadful” quality of Ukrainian food products.
With the support of the USAID Health Reform Support project, VoxCheck analyzes and refutes public health narratives spread in the information space of Ukraine, Belarus, and russia on a weekly basis.
Russian bloggers are spreading an article from the Chinese publication Global Times with the headline “Chinese Scientists Reveal the Secret of the ‘Ukrainian Plague'”. According to propagandists, the article supposedly discusses research by Chinese scientists from the Chemical Laboratory of Tsinghua University in Beijing, who discovered microdoses of psychoactive substances in Ukrainian products.
Screenshot of the post
What’s the reality?
In reality, the Global Times publication did not publish such a news story. On the media page, we did not find any material with the headline “Chinese Scientists Reveal the Secret of the ‘Ukrainian Plague'”. Instead, there is an article that completely matches the date, time of publication, and author. In the original text, the author Hu Yuwei writes about espionage activities in China, not about Ukrainian food products.
Under the photo, you can see the caption “VGG,” which is also placed under the image in the Russian bloggers’ article. In the text itself, the Russians made a mistake and wrote “Xinhua University,” although the official English name is Tsinghua. Moreover, the text resembles typical news from Kremlin-controlled media, as it emphasizes “endless” corruption scandals and “great” losses for Ukrainians on the front lines. Therefore, it is most likely that propagandists edited the original article and added their own context to discredit Ukraine.
Original Global Times article published on September 18, 2023
The laboratory in Beijing where Chinese scientists allegedly conducted research on Ukrainian products is located at the Institute of Nuclear and Energy Technologies. However, there is no mention of food product research on the official website of the Institute. The Institute conducts research and development in the fields of energy, environment, natural resources, and nuclear science. The chemical laboratory page of the Institute also makes no reference to testing food products. Instead, the website states that the laboratory studies microchemical engineering technology, processes involving carbon dioxide, and the preparation of micro/nanomaterials.
With their statements, Russian bloggers are playing into the Kremlin’s narrative about the spread of narcotic substances in Ukraine, particularly in food products. However, there is no news in Ukrainian media about the possibility of finding psychotropic substances in yogurt, juice, or bread.
All food products must adhere to the standards outlined in the “Basic Principles and Requirements for Safety and Quality of Food Products” law. This means that every manufacturer must comply with sanitary regulations when developing their products. However, if there is evidence of harm from a particular product to human health, it must be withdrawn from circulation and production, even if it complies with the law.
Furthermore, anyone can file a complaint about a specific product with the State Service of Ukraine for Food Safety and Consumer Protection. For example, as of July 2023, the State Service for Food Safety and Consumer Protection conducted 2087 checks at the request of the manufacturer and 332 checks in response to consumer complaints.
To ensure the safe consumption of products, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine advises following several rules: thoroughly cook or boil products, especially meat, poultry, eggs, and fish; store food at the appropriate temperature in the refrigerator; use safe water, and so on.
Source: Ministry of Health of Ukraine
Failure to follow these rules carries the risk of contracting gastrointestinal infections. As of September 1, 2023, Ukraine has recorded nearly 20,500 cases of acute gastrointestinal infections. According to the Chief Sanitary Doctor, Ihor Kuzin, the majority of these illnesses are linked to improper food preparation or the consumption of unwashed vegetables or fruits.
This information piece was produced with the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), provided on behalf of the people of the United States of America. This article’s content, which does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government, is the sole responsibility of Deloitte Consulting under contract #72012118C00001.
The author doesn`t work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations