Wal-Mart investigates Shenzhen store over claims of selling expired meat

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 August, 2014, 9:16pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 August, 2014, 1:03am

American supermarket giant Wal-Mart has launched a probe into its store in Shenzhen after local media reported a big number of expired meat had been sold there.

The Shenzhen Television Station aired a video taken by a supposed employee for Wal-Mart’s Honghu store, showing expired meat as well as reused oil used to fry the meat, possibly to cover the taste. The man said he worked for the store in the city for eight years.

In the video, the man said a lot of meat past their sell-by dates were being fried then sold to customers. This has been going on since last year, he said.

The man said the oil would be used repeatedly for at least one month – even when it was already black.

According to the report, to save costs, the management of the store even sold moth-infested rice to customers instead of returning them to the suppliers or discarding them.

Wal-Mart released a statement on Thursday saying an internal investigation was launched into the Shenzhen branch, but insisted there was no direct evidence to prove the video’s authenticity.

According to the supermarket giant, no evidence of the alleged activity were found in Honghu. Nevertheless, it said it was going to invite independent third party agencies to perform surprise inspections every month at its mainland stores.

Wal-Mart has 400 shops across China, employing more than 107,000 employees, according to its website.

The company, among the world’s largest retailers, saw net sales rise by 1.4 per cent to US$473 billion in the financial year that ended in January, its data shows.

The local market supervision and administration bureau has examined the cooking oil from the store’s food stall, but the results of the inspection was as yet unknown.

The incident is the latest food safety scandal to hit the mainland, particularly expired meat, which can be riddled with harmful bacteria.

Late last month, Shanghai shut a factory of US food provider OSI Group for mixing out-of-date meat with fresh products, and re-labelling and selling expired goods to restaurant giants including McDonald’s and KFC.

The factory’s other customers in China included restaurant operator Yum’s Pizza Hut brand, coffee chain Starbucks, Burger King, 7-Eleven convenience stores and Papa John’s Pizza, according to separate statements from the companies.

China’s national-level Food and Drug Administration has ordered an investigation into OSI’s factories, which includes facilities in at least five provinces.