This video has circulated in reports about supermarket workers disposing of spoiled dairy products in Saudi Arabia

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A video has been viewed and shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube alongside a claim that it shows Kuwaitis throwing away French products after boycott calls triggered a standoff between France and some Muslim countries over Islam and freedom of speech. The claim is false; the video has circulated in reports about a Saudi supermarket disposing dairy products in May 2020 – months before the calls to boycott French products.

The video was published on Facebook here on November 3, 2020. It has been shared more than 25,000 times.

The 29-second video shows men throwing products from supermarket trolley carts into a garbage truck. 

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post taken on November 12, 2020

The caption reads in part: “Kuwait Put All France Products In Garbage.”  

The post circulated online following calls to boycott French products in the Islamic world. The calls came in response to French President Emmanuel Macron's defence of the right to criticise Islam as part of freedom of speech, as reported by AFP on October 25, 2020. Images on social media showed workers removing French cheese from shelves at Kuwaiti stores. 

The video has been viewed more than 183,000 times after it appeared with a similar claim on Facebook here, herehere and here; on Twitter here, here and here; and YouTube here.  

The same video was also shared with a similar claim in Malaysian language here and here.

The claim, however, is false.

Translated to English, the voice speaking Arabic in the video says: “The destruction is carried out under the supervision of (inaudible) municipality, in Al-Ahsa region, in the presence of a representative of the Ministry of Commerce and the Saudi food and Drug Authority.”  

Al-Ahsa is located in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province.

A reverse image search using keyframes extracted with digital verification tool InVID-WeVerify, followed by a keyword search, found the video was tweeted by UAE-based TV channel, Al-Arabiya on May 14, 2020, here.

The tweet says: “A spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Commerce, Abdulrahman Al-Hussein, denies the information contained in a circulating video, stating that the materials that were confiscated and destroyed are ‘carcinogenic’, and reveals that the material is cheese that has shown signs of spoilage due to poor storage.

“Trade spokesman warned against spreading and promoting rumours.”

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (L) and the video tweeted by Al-Arabiya (R):

Screenshot comparison of the video from the misleading post on Facebook (L) and the video tweeted by Al-Arabiya (R)

Media outlet Gulf News reported here about the video on May 14, 2020, with a headline: “Saudi Arabia says rotten cheese in video is not cancerous.” 

The report’s first three paragraphs read: “Saudi authorities denied information in a video being circulated on social media about cancerous materials found in cheese products in Al Ahsa.

“Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Hussain, official spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce and Investment and General Supervisor of Marketing and Communication, said competent authorities confiscated and destroyed 1,628 rotten cheese products in Al Ahsa, the largest governorate in the kingdom’s eastern region.

“He said the products, which were affected by improper storage and spoiled, have been confiscated and destroyed, not because of cancerous substances.”