China food safety

Health officials meet with fastfood chain over supply of 'rotten meat' to Hong Kong

Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety confirms records of exports by Husi Food Company, whose Shanghai plant is under investigation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2014, 3:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 7:49am

The city’s food safety officials have scheduled an urgent meeting with a fastfood restaurant chain on Wednesday evening to follow up on the “rotten meat” scandal involving a Shanghai processing factory.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said this afternoon the meeting’s purpose was to ensure that no affected food has been imported into Hong Kong.

But officials declined to disclose which restaurant chain they will meet and other details of the meeting.

This came after the Centre for Food Safety on Tuesday night confirmed that products from a processing plant in Hebei province run by the company at the centre of the “rotten meat” scandal have been imported into Hong Kong this year

Husi Food Company, owned by the Illinois-based OSI Group, is being investigated by mainland authorities after reports that rotten meat had been reprocessed and repackaged with new expiry dates at its Shanghai plant.

The tainted meat may have been sold to international chains such as McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut.

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

Five Husi executives were questioned by Shanghai police on Tuesday, after investigators seized 160 tonnes of raw meat as well as 1,107 tonnes of Husi Food products.

Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety (CFS) had earlier on Tuesday said it had no record of meat from the Shanghai plant being exported to Hong Kong this year.

The factory was licensed to export to both Hong Kong and Japan, according to its website.

CFS refused to offer further comment when asked if meat from the Shanghai plant could have reached Hong Kong prior to this year, repeating an earlier statement that it would check with mainland counterparts for any evidence that Husi meat made it to Hong Kong.

McDonald’s Japan admitted on Tuesday that the company had sourced about a fifth of its “Chicken McNuggets” from Husi's Shanghai plant and that it had halted sales of the product on Monday.

Last night CFS confirmed that its records showed that meat from the Hebei plant was exported to Hong Kong in the past year.

Mainland authorities have not confirmed if the Hebei plant is being investigated.

A CFS spokeswoman said it was looking into which businesses had imported products from the Hebei plant and the quantities involved.

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

The latest developments came after media reports alleged that McDonalds in Hong Kong had sourced frozen chicken products from Husi’s Hebei plant. The reports included a photo that was purportedly taken at a McDonald’s outlet in Hong Kong and showed a carton of McNuggets with a label reading ‘Husi Food Ltd in Hebei’.

McDonalds Hong Kong did not respond to enquiries on Wednesday.

The CFS spokeswoman said inspections conducted on “the fast food chain in question” have found no problems with food hygiene.

She said storage conditions satisfied food and hygiene requirements.

Preliminary investigations have concluded that the food company is suspected of illegal production and operation, according to a joint investigation team by China's food safety watchdog and police.

Investigators also found a client list of Hsui, which involves nearly 150 companies. Police did not reveal the full list but said it was handed over to the food safety watchdog.