Salty Noodles & Cockroaches = Sour Grapes for Food Blogger in Taiwan

by Melody Kettle

photo courtesy of West Chester Dumonts via Creative CommonsAccording to an article in the Taipei Times, the Taiwan High Court sentenced a food blogger to 30 days in detention and two years of probation and ordered her to pay NT$200,000 (approximately $7,000 US dollars) in compensation to the restaurant. 

In the review, the blogger, surnamed Liu (劉), criticized the beef noodles as too salty, described the conditions of the restaurant as unsanitary due to cockroaches, and stated the owner was a “bully” by allowing haphazard parking in front of the restaurant.

The Taichung District Court ruled that Liu’s criticism of the restaurant exceeded reasonable bounds and sentenced her to 30 days in detention, a ruling that Liu appealed.

The High Court found that Liu’s criticism about cockroaches in the restaurant to be a narration of facts, not intentional slander.

However, the judge also ruled that Liu should not have criticized all the restaurant’s food as too salty because she only had one dish on her single visit.

Health officials who inspected the restaurant did not find conditions to be as unsanitary as Liu had described, so the High Court also ruled that Liu must pay NT$200,000 to the owner for revenues lost as a result of her blog post.

The ruling is final.

Liu has apologized to the restaurant, and the owner of the restaurant hopes this form of punishment will teach the blogger a lesson.

So what say you?  In the United States, due to First Amendment freedoms, the outcome in a case like this would likely have been different.  Should it be? How important are photographs when writing a food review?