• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 7:16pm

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


Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Silly man, the Chinese meat supplier was also providing junk meat to Chinese establishments.
Where do you think those dead pigs in the river end up - in some hot pot restaurant.
Eating any food in China is risky.
These people are evil to consider sending out rotten food for human consumption. They should be forced to eat the food themselves.
In a country like China, there is no integrity.
It is corrupt and rotten to the core.
rubbish husi co. take back the awards they got. this company should be closed immediately as they will surely do the same blunder in future. all this rotten meat should be fed to the head and staff and their family.
china bashing ? I see a number of people have agreed with you once again ! lol. This is common practice in china - and think about all the other companies in china where this is and has been going on for years and nobody has found out yet. china bashing ? lol.....go order a bucket of chicken and get some mcnuggets next time you're in the mainland
They even sell, eat dogs, what more sell rotten beef or chicken.
Evil , uncivilised and rotten.
They sell rotten meat to innocent buyers - women and children.
These people should be jailed.
Ant Lee
consistent with Chinese characteristics (for the Chinese environment soon also applicable to Hong Kong).
Since the handover, the days of HK are numbered. If we don't die from lung cancer or other respiratory diseases, the pollutants and air particles blown from the north, we would die from slow food poisoning from imports of China's tainted food. This article is nothing to be alarmed about because we all know it's just the tip of the iceberg. Who knows what kind of stuff we have ingested all these years. In grocery stores, made in the PRC is printed so small you would need a magnifying glass.
If your argument is based on the theory that it could happen anywhere in the world, well, I would take my chances elsewhere, particularly in the west where the air is certainly fresher, where coal is almost an obsolete form of energy, and there is such a thing called mandatory catalytic converter in all transportation vehicles (google it). There is also such a thing called FDA where its operation is up to par and unobstructed by bribes. Thus the terms "developed" and under-developed" country carry weight.
More China bashing ! Are you naive enough to think this practice never happens in Europe or USA? Note the standard reaction when a Western-owned company gets caught cheating in China, the company immediately tries to shift the onus onto Chinese sub-contractors , suppliers or "local managers". If you are in the food manufacturing business you are responsible for quality right throughout the supply chain. No excuses.
As another example, the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has been using bribery as a standard market enhancing strategy around the world for decades. Did did you notice how they first tried to deny this and blame it on "the Chinese" when their top British manager got arrested recently. This company has also been providing generous financial sweeteners to those responsible for buying drugs for hospitals and clinics within the United Kingdom. Nobody ever says a word about this because all parties are 'happy' with the transactions.
This sort of thing happens occasionally in countries all over the world. (Just to be fair)



SCMP.com Account