The latest Chinese meat scandal is spreading, with reports confirming that Chinese McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and Starbucks outlets all purchased meat products originally sourced from Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd. Shanghai Husi was shut down by authorities on Sunday after television station Dragon TV showed footage of workers repackaging and relabeling expired beef and chicken products and throwing meat that had fallen onto the factory floor back into mixing machines.
Food safety is of high concern to Chinese consumers after a series of public health scandals, including the 2008 melamine-tainted milk scandal, which caused the deaths of six children and poisoned thousands of others. International fast food brands have long been held in high regard in China due to their occupational health and safety practices and food handling policies. The trouble in this instance is that outlets have purchased meat products from an outside source that did not share the same quality control values.
China’s Food and Drug Administration has instructed regional offices to make spot checks on all food outlets that have used Shanghai Husi products. Other factories managed by Shanghai Husi’s parent company, OSI, will also be inspected to make sure food safety is not an even wider issue for the company. While all fast food outlets affected rapidly and voluntarily removed products from sale, the regulator has ordered McDonalds to seal over 4,500 cartons of suspect meat products and Chinese Pizza Hut outlets to seal more than 500 cartons of beef as potential evidence. The case could now be handed over to police.
The scandal has also spread further, with McDonalds outlets in Tokyo receiving chicken nuggets from Shanghai Husi. McDonalds Japan issued a statement that it had removed the products from sale and had sourced alternative supplies. McDonalds, Starbucks, Burger King, and Pizza Hut and KFC parent company Yum Brands Inc. all took to social media to assure customers that none of their products currently available for sale were tainted. However, that will probably be cold comfort to consumers as one of the Shanghai Husi managers interviewed by Dragon TV stated that company executives had approved the unsafe food handling practices and that they had been in place for several years.