The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been accused of racism after using an image of Asian food in an Instagram post that urged the public to protect themselves from COVID-19 when ordering delivery or take-out items.
The image, which was posted on Wednesday, featured a flat lay of four Asian dishes and a pair of chopsticks in the center.
It is unknown where exactly the CDC acquired the image and it’s also unclear what some of the dishes are, but they include dumplings and what appears to be braised beef with mixed mushrooms, which is popular in Chinese cuisine.
“Protect yourself from COVID-19 while ordering delivery or take-out items,” the CDC warned in its post. “Order and pay online, or over the phone if possible, ask for deliveries to be left in a safe spot outside your home, accept take-out items without in-person contact or stay at least six feet away from others, and wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after getting your food.”
This is the second Instagram post within a week where the CDC used an Asian reference to educate the public about COVID-19. On Tuesday, the agency sparked outrage after showcasing the cover of the May 2020 issue of its Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) journal.
The cover featured an image of an 18th-century Chinese military rank badge, which included figures such as a leopard, fruit trees, flowering plants and a bunch of “swooping bats.” In its post, the agency noted that bats are the source of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV); in its website, it explicitly identified the animals as the origin of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the pathogen responsible for COVID-19.
Due to unfounded speculations that COVID-19 came from the consumption of bats, people of Asian descent have unfortunately become targets of racist and xenophobic attacks. This appears to be amplified by resurfacing videos of Asian people eating bat soup, as well as the Trump administration’s continued patronage of the term “Chinese virus.”
Last month, CDC Director Robert Redfield agreed that it is wrong to call SARS-CoV-2 the “Chinese coronavirus.” This confused many people after the agency posted the military badge art, which has since been deleted following the backlash.
As of this writing, the Asian food post has received more than 2,780 likes, but it also drew plenty of criticism from those who believe it was racist.
“After you were forced to delete your post yesterday, did anyone think about insinuation of using a picture of Asian takeout food in your post about food safety? People of Asian descent have been targets of racist attacks due to the stigma and misinformation around the coronavirus. Whether you meant to or not, people may interpret your post as suggesting Asian food is more likely to be harbor the virus than other cuisines,” one user commented.
Others echoed the same sentiment:
Feature Image via @cdcgov