The Problem

A 2015 Pew research survey shows 71 per cent of Chinese citizens cite food safety as a “big problem.” The Chinese government itself has declared food safety as a top priority for the country. Telling truth from fiction can be difficult given how quickly rumours spread on and offline.

The Solution – “What’s in the bun?” – a micro-game focused on helping users test how savvy they are when it comes to food safety – learning about important food safety incidents, and dispelling false food scandal rumours. Host a follow-up  anonymous Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) with food safety experts to give players an opportunity to ask specific questions on food related worries, and further generate interest in the issue areas.


“What’s in the Bun?” was created by the Digital Public Square project at the Munk School of Global Affairs in the University of Toronto. Its goal is to increase public knowledge about food safety in China by combining the best practices of game design with valuable research on food safety. Telling truth from fiction can be difficult given how quickly rumours spread. With this data the project aims to give users a chance to test how savvy they are when it comes to food safety (and have some fun while learning). Participation in the game is anonymous. The project does not record personally identifying information. It’s up to users to actively choose to share the game, and their results, if they enjoy it.


4.8 million
AMA Participants
Responses to Food Rumours

Project Background

What’s in the Bun is partly inspired by games like Play Judgey. The food incident data in “What’s In the Bun?” was first sourced from the website, Throw It Out The Window, and then cross-referenced with a wide variety of Chinese and international media, as well as environmental and medical organizations. The project also sought food safety expertise at the University of Toronto. Each reported incidence has additionally been cross-checked against the website, the largest food industry portal in China. was developed by Global FoodMate, a company that has a close partnership with National Center for Health Inspection and Supervision, the Chinese FDA, Chinese Food Science and Technology Academy, Bureau of Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine, and other regulatory bodies.

On February 22nd, “What’s In the Bun?” hosted an online, live, expert driven ask-me-anything (AMA) event on food safety. For one hour, users accessing were automatically redirected to the ask-me-anything Q&A platform. An expert panel – consisting of three organic food and agriculture experts from within China, one China environmental pollution expert based in the UK, and the DPS Team – answered questions live related to food, food safety, and the game’s design. Over the course of the event, the Q&A platform received 9704 likes by 16,000 engaged and active users who submitted 414 questions in one hour.