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  • Sep 17, 2014
  • Updated: 7:30am

China Food Scandals

A crisis in confidence in China's food industry emerged after melamine was found in domestically produced baby formula in 2008. The scandal sickened 300,000 babies and resulted in six premature deaths. Other stories of fake eggs, diseased pork, recycled oil, mislabelled meat and more have only led to more calls for industry reform.


Starbucks, Dicos withdraw sandwiches as China launches nationwide probe into 'rotten meat' firm

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 July, 2014, 10:11am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 July, 2014, 8:35pm

Starbucks has become the latest international chain to withdraw products from its shelves in the wake of the rotten meat scandal that has shaken China's fast food industry.

The news came as China's food safety agency announced a nationwide investigation into processing factories and meat suppliers used by the Shanghai Husi Food Company, accused of selling expired beef and chicken to McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut.

In addition to Husi’s facility in Shanghai, inspectors will look at processing sites and meat sources in five other provinces in central, eastern and southern China, the China Food and Drug Administration announced. Violations will be “severely punished,” the agency said on its website.

Watch: China 'rotten meat' factory quality manager: It was a company policy

Seattle-based Starbucks said it had removed chicken and apple paninis from cafes in Shanghai after discovering that it had used meat purchased from the company, amid reports of food safety violations.

Mainland fast-food chain Dicos yesterday said it had taken breakfast sandwiches off its menu because its ham had been sourced from the meat processing firm.

A statement released by Starbucks said: "Our review has identified one product, the 'Chicken Apple Sauce Panini', sourced from one of our suppliers, that uses chicken provided by Shanghai Husi." The sandwich was sold in 13 different provinces and major cities.

Swedish retailer Ikea also said it had bought chicken meat for its mainland branches from the factory between September 2012 and August last year, adding that it was "highly concerned about the ingredient quality issue".

DON'T MISS: 'Rotten meat' firm licensed to supply to Hong Kong; lawmakers call for tests on mainland imports

The affected chains have so far said no meat from the factory was used in their Hong Kong branches.

Shanghai food authorities on Sunday shut the factory, owned by a US-based company, as it investigates allegations that Husi falsified the expiry date on some of the meat products sold to international chains McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut.

The move followed a news report on Shanghai's Dragon TV exposing the malpractice at the factory.

Watch: China supplier of KFC, McDonald's accused of using rotten meat in fast-food products

The report showed an e-mail from management, which allegedly asked employees to extend the expiry date of 10 tonnes of frozen beef. The meat, reportedly already green and odorous, was reprocessed, refrozen and repackaged with a new expiry date, the report alleged.

The report featured footage showing staff picking up food from the floor and throwing it into processing machines.

Discarded Chicken McNuggets, a McDonald's staple, could be seen being reprocessed until they passed inspection. The report indicated that clients did not know about the practices.

McDonald's and Yum Brands, owner of the KFC and Pizza Hut franchises, reacted by saying they had stopped sourcing meat from Husi and had started investigations. Both companies apologised, and said their mainland restaurants could now face a shortage of certain products.

Yum Brands identified its sausage and egg burger and a "spicy roasted burger" as being affected. McDonald's did not specify any products.

Husi's parent company, the Illinois-based OSI Group, apologised, saying it had formed an investigation team and was fully cooperating with inspections conducted by the authorities.

"Our ... management believes this to be an isolated event, but takes full responsibility for the situation and will take appropriate actions swiftly and comprehensively," its statement said.

The China Food and Drug Administration has launched an investigation into the company.

Xinhua said administration investigators visited the processing facility in Shanghai's Jiading district on Sunday evening, but were stopped by security guards until police arrived.

The agency said it had since closed the processing facility and seized suspected raw food items. It ordered clients to take the factory's products off their shelves.

The factory was licensed to export to Hong Kong and Japan, its website said. The Centre for Food Safety said it had no record of any meat imports from the Shanghai factory to Hong Kong.

A spokeswoman for McDonald's Hong Kong said it did not receive any products from Husi Shanghai but had been using meat supplied by OSI group branches outside Shanghai.

KFC and Pizza Hut told media that they did not use any products from the factory in question.

James Button, director of the Shanghai-based consultancy SmithStreetSolutions, said the Husi case will make it more difficult for international brands such as McDonald's and KFC, to compete for costumers in China.

"When they first entered the market, they offered unique experiences in terms of novel food choices, clean environment and perceived higher quality and safety vs. other options," he said.

"This latest scandal is yet another reminder to consumers that no one is above food quality issues in China."

The Shanghai factory processed 25,000 tonnes of food annually. It received a food safety award from Jiading district this year.

OSI, which has close to 60 manufacturing facilities worldwide and had revenue of over US$5 billion in 2012, has been supplying McDonald's in China since 1992 and Yum since 2008.

McDonald's has about 2,000 restaurants in China. Yum has 6,200 branches in China, while Ikea has 16 stores.

Additional reporting by Shirley Zhao and Reuters


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This article is now closed to comments

Well, I was actually positively surprised by this. Despite everything, they at least not using "pink slime" which is how all nuggets in the US are made.
"Pink Slime" is not technically considered "meat" according to the FDA, but still deemed fit for human consumption. I would have expected the nuggets in China to be made from the same, but it seems that they at least used real chicken meat, albeit a little rotten.
Between pink slime and semi-rotten chicken meat... I guess I would pick the latter if I really had to choose one.
Really surprised the Chinese propaganda machine let this one out...
Ant Lee
all of you should not blame china for this. this is just "Chinese characteristic"
Where's the beef! Haha remember that? Anyway, the meat is gross.
totally disgusting, the husi management should face criminal prosecution.
at the same time, how about we investigate the lanzhou lamian restaurants? there are probably 10 lanzhou lamians or hotpot restaurants for every mcdonalds, and i'm not sure their sanitation is any better. i don't doubt that husi committed these crimes, but once again it looks like a Chinese TV station out to bash foreign brands while the local brands never get investigated.
What a country: poison baby milk, toxic toothpaste, rotten meat; all sold to the public.
This is why the leaders get their food from special farms.
Tougher laws and more stringent implementation of these laws are the keys to food safety. But the best defence is by the consumers who can choose to sue these companies to bankruptcy and criminal prosecutions for the owners and those managers responsible for such excesses...
China must now empower independent consumers' groups...and start protecting and rewarding bona fide whistleblowers...otherwise even President Xi's family members may ultimately be victims as well...in the world of excessive greed there are no limits to the pursuit of more profits by unscrupulous businessmen...
Take note also that Husi is a foreign-owned company operating in China and is giving China a bad name...any more HUSIs out there?
In the US, everything from beef to peanut butter has been recalled for salmonella and other heath reasons.
Earlier this year - 8.7 million pounds of meat from a Northern California company were recalled because they came from "diseased and unsound" animals that weren't properly inspected,
according to a federal agency. All of these were produced and shipped between January 1, 2013, through January 7, 2014
The FSIS recall notice indicates a "reasonable probability" that consumption could result in "serious, adverse health consequences or death."
you aren't suppose to tell the truth here
McDonalds HK uses the meat products from Husi, and they haven't stop using them as reported. Don't be fooled by what they say.




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