Food safety scandal rocks fast food giants in China

Global Business

A major supplier to many fast food restaurants including McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut in China has been busted for selling year-old expired meat in unsanitary conditions.

The stomach-churning finding at the American-owned Shanghai Husi Food Co. came after an investigative report on food safety by Shanghai’s Dragon TV.

Reporters who managed to enter the Husi workshop reported they saw clear evidence that stale beef and chicken were repackaged after processing, and that their acceptable shelf-life was prolonged for another year.

Investigators sent by the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration arrived at the company’s facility in an industrial town late Sunday night.


The reporter allegedly obtained proof showing that the violations are systemic, rather than just limited to a few employees. According to the whistleblower, Husi Food has been cooking the books so the company could cook whatever it wanted whenever it wanted.

In the wake of the revelations, the Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration closed operations at Husi Food Company and seized meat products suspected of being past their expiration date. Authorities also ordered all meat products at McDonald’s and KFC outlets that were supplied by the firm to be taken off the shelf.

Yesterday, McDonald’s Corp and KFC-owner Yum Brands released an apology to Chinese consumers and said they will stop using the meat supplier.

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Earlier on Sunday, the administration ordered that all meat products supplied by the company be taken off the shelves for safety concerns.


Over a dozen fast food chain companies have been affected by using Husi’s contaminated meat product. In response, the fast food giants impacted by the scandal have issued statements and promised immediate action.

“We have stopped using all food material provided by the company and some of our restaurants nationwide may halt serving some products,” said McDonald’s.

“We have launched an investigation into the supplier and have a zero-tolerance policy for any supplier’s violations of laws and regulations,” said a statement by Yum Brands, which has ordered its KFC and Pizza Hut outlets to stop using Husi’s materials.

Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee-shop chain, said it doesn’t work directly with Husi, though one of its suppliers did. The affected item, a chicken apple panini, was only available in China and is no longer for sale, the Seattle-based company said in a statement.

Although China is no stranger to food safety scandals, the current imbroglio is unique in that Shanghai Husi is a member of the US OSI Group, and is a solely foreign-funded company.

This article was compiled with information from Dragon TV, China Daily, Xinhua News Agency and Bloomberg.