McDonald’s Hong Kong pulls chicken nuggets over supplies from rotten food plant
Fast food chain in Hong Kong suspends sales of popular items after admitting buying goods from Shanghai plant that repackaged old meat
Danny Mok and Ng Kang-chung
McDonald's Hong Kong on Thursday night suspended sales of its popular chicken nuggets after admitting it had imported chicken and pork from the Shanghai food processing plant at the centre of a rotten meat scandal.
The company said it would also stop selling its McSpicy chicken filets, fresh corn cup, iced fresh lemon tea, and green salad and chicken salad.
"We will continue to offer other products apart from the above mentioned. Nevertheless, vegetable ingredients in certain products would be temporarily unavailable," it said in a statement.
McDonald's Hong Kong previously denied having imported any food products from the Shanghai plant. It apologised to its customers yesterday for the "confusion" and said the food currently being served in the city was not from Shanghai Husi.
"We will keep on taking a proactive approach to follow up with the government authority in a bid to resume supply as early as possible," it said.
The government earlier announced an immediate ban on the import and sales of products from Husi Food Company. Tainted meat may also have been sold to other global chains, such as KFC and Pizza Hut.
Assistant director of food and environmental hygiene Dr Lee Siu-yuen said any Husi food already in Hong Kong would be sealed and stored in warehouses.
The ban on meat from Husi, owned by the Illinois-based OSI Group, will remain pending an inquiry by mainland food-safety authorities. The inquiry was prompted by reports that rotten meat had been reprocessed and repackaged with new expiry dates at the Shanghai plant.
Lee urged importers and vendors with Husi food not to sell it and to report it to the department. She said the government had contacted McDonald's after the scandal broke on Sunday.
The authorities were told that it had imported cooked chicken leg meat in May from Husi's Shanghai plant, and that from July to December last year it had imported 10 batches of frozen pork from the Shanghai plant.
Despite the suspension, chicken McNuggets were still available at a McDonald's outlet at the Leighton Centre in Causeway Bay at 11.15pm last night. McSpicy chicken filets were also on sale. A member of staff said sales would be suspended "gradually".
Legislator Alice Mak Mei-kuen of the Federation of Trade Unions accused McDonald's of attempting a cover-up.
"It looks like [McDonald's] was trying to cheat customers. It is totally unacceptable," said Mak, who said she would raise the issue at a meeting of the food safety and environmental hygiene panel.
The food scare broke when a Shanghai broadcaster, Dragon TV, reported that Husi repackaged old beef and chicken and put new expiration dates on them. It said they were sold to McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants.
The scare has also spread to Japan, where McDonald's said 20 per cent of the meat for its chicken nuggets was supplied by Husi.
In an effort to dispel fears, Lee said that officers from the Centre for Food Safety had visited the outlets of fast food chains in the past few days and inspected over 1,000 samples. The hygiene condition was satisfactory, she said.
The food chains inspected included KFC, Starbucks, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Yoshinoya and Ikea Restaurant.
OSI Group chief executive officer Sheldon Lavin apologised to "all of our customers in China". He said the incident "was terribly wrong" and "I am appalled that it ever happened in the company that I own".
Five Husi executives were reported to have been questioned by Shanghai police.
McDonald’s Japan said on Friday it would halt all imports of chicken products from China and shift that business to Thailand, boosting purchases from existing suppliers McKey Foods Services and Cargill Thailand.
McDonald’s Japan said earlier this week that it sourced about a fifth of its Chicken McNuggets from Shanghai Husi and had halted sales of the product on Monday.