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Mainland branches of well-known global brands have been exposed by a local television station for selling shoddy products like expired food, and using tactics to deceive buyers.
In its annual investigative programme 315 Gala, marking Consumer Rights Day on March 15, China Central Television (CCTV) captured misdeeds at a McDonald's outlet in Beijing's Sanlitun area, such as serving customers hamburger patties that had fallen on the floor.
The fast-food branch was also caught selling old fried chicken wings, cheese slices and pies by resetting clocks used to monitor food quality, or putting the food in packaging with a new manufacturing time.
Footage from a hidden camera also showed staff reusing fallen burger patties, and another employee serving chicken that was two days past its sell-by date.
'[McDonald's] standards require us to throw them away but no restaurant will follow it. Everyone turns a blind eye,' said one staff member filmed by the camera. Another said saving costs by selling substandard or expired food was the only way to guarantee workers' bonuses.
A senior health official was cited by the Beijing Times yesterday as saying it was the first time in his 30 years of working for the hygiene watchdog that he had witnessed a big brand seriously violating mainland hygiene regulations.
In a statement on its website on Thursday, the firm said: 'McDonald's [China] has paid close attention to what CCTV has reported in its March 15 gala, that Beijing McDonald's Sanlitun restaurant violated McDonald's operational standards, and expresses its sincerest apology to customers.'
Meanwhile, French supermarket Carrefour's branch in Zhengzhou , Henan province, was caught selling old meat, and labelling ordinary chicken as pricier organic produce. One of the CCTV reporters who went undercover for the programme also tracked how the branch was changing manufacturing-date labels on chicken kidneys to make it appear as if the goods were fresh.
A manager was filmed telling staff to recycle fresh meat carefully without being caught by media as another Carrefour branch in Fujian province had been.
Carrefour China said it had 'immediately launched an investigation on the issue and suspended staff responsible for the scandal from duties'.
China Merchants Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China were exposed for selling clients' personal information, including their incomes. Toy factories in Shantou in Guangdong were found recycling medical waste to make toys.