The McDonald's joint venture convicted produces French fries and hash browns. Photo: AFP

McDonald’s Chinese joint venture given ‘record fine’ for water pollution

Fine largest ever handed out for the offence in Beijing, according to state media


A McDonald’s joint venture in China supplying its outlets with French fries has been slapped with a record 3.9 million yuan (HK$4.9 million) fine for water pollution, state media reported.

The fine levied against Beijing Simplot Food Processing was the largest ever meted out by the city of Beijing for pollution, the state-run Xinhua news agency said, citing the municipal environmental watchdog.

Beijing Simplot Food Processing is a joint venture between US agribusiness J.R. Simplot Company, McDonald’s and the Beijing Agricultural, Industrial and Commerce General Company, Xinhua said.

Beijing Simplot makes French fries and hash browns for McDonald’s, according to Xinhua, adding that it also produced them for other East Asian customers, without elaborating.

The fine comes as China cracks down on air, water and soil pollution amid rising public discontent over the impact on health and national embarrassment over how the problem is tarnishing the image of the world’s second-largest economy.

A new environmental law, the first in 25 years, went into force this year, imposing tougher penalties and pledging that violators would be “named and shamed”.


Recent studies have shown that roughly two-thirds of China’s soil is estimated to be polluted and that 60 per cent of underground water is too contaminated to drink.

Inspectors discovered in November that a water quality indicator in Beijing Simplot Food Processing’s waste water exceeded limits and immediately blocked its pipes, ordering it to treat the water at a processing plant, Xinhua reported.

The polluted water flowed into city pipes, the report said, citing a local environmental protection office.

Beijing Simplot Food Processing said in a statement that it accepted the decision and paid the fine on schedule after immediately co-operating with the authorities when the problem was discovered.


McDonald’s said in a statement that it took the violation very seriously and would be monitoring Beijing Simplot’s compliance in the future.

“All McDonald’s suppliers must comply with all relevant local laws and regulations,” it said.