Chinese go online with food safety jokes

BEIJING Tue Sep 23, 2008 1:42am BST

Milk is seen being poured away due to the closure of a milk factory on the outskirts of Wuhan, Hubei province September 21, 2008. Fed up with an almost constant diet of bad news about quality and safety problems, some Chinese are taking out their frustrations with biting jokes on the Internet about the seemingly never-ending scandals. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA). CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA.

Milk is seen being poured away due to the closure of a milk factory on the outskirts of Wuhan, Hubei province September 21, 2008. Fed up with an almost constant diet of bad news about quality and safety problems, some Chinese are taking out their frustrations with biting jokes on the Internet about the seemingly never-ending scandals.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer (CHINA). CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA.

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Fed up with an almost constant diet of bad news about quality and safety problems, some Chinese are taking out their frustrations with biting jokes on the Internet about the seemingly never-ending scandals.

In the latest health scare, thousands of Chinese babies have fallen ill and three have died after drinking contaminated milk formula, prompting some Chinese to wonder if there is anything safe to use, and to go online to voice their frustrations.

One joke, entitled "The lucky day of a Chinese", takes a look at all the dangerous or unsanitary goods the average Zhou could run into on a daily basis.

"Get up early, clean your teeth with carcinogenic toothpaste, and drink a glass of expired milk with excess levels of iodine and contaminated with melamine," it starts, melamine being the compound found tainting the baby milk powder.

Other delicacies it suggests eating during the course of the day are eggs tinted with banned food colorant Sudan Red, eels fed on contraceptives, and cabbage washed with DDT -- all references to previous health scandals in China.

Don't forget to miss out on pork from pigs which have died of disease, a particular problem in rural areas.

"What a great day!" the joke ends, sarcastically.

Over the past few years the safety of everything from Chinese-made car parts and toys to pet food and dumplings has been called into question, both at home and abroad, as have hygiene standards generally in the vast country.

Internet use has exploded in recent years but the government keeps a close tab on what appears, removing offensive comments or detaining those who criticise too much on certain sensitive topics, such as human rights.

But this hasn't stopped the online humour.

In another joke, a man goes into a local store to buy some bread, but discovers there's no expiry date written on the package.

The sales clerk looks at the packet, and then gets out a pen.

"Don't worry, let me write one on for you," he says.

Then spare a thought for the two men who go looking for a mid-morning caffeine boost.

"I'll have a coffee," the first man tells the waiter.

"Me too, and make sure the cup is clean," the second adds.

A moment later the waiter reappears.

"Sorry, which one of you wanted the clean cup?"

(Additional reporting by Beijing and Shanghai newsrooms; Editing by Nick Macfie and Valerie Lee) .

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