Wed, Jul 23, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Food scandal reaches Starbucks, Japan

MEATY ISSUE:Government-ordered probes and online updates from firms followed posts linking fast-food restaurants to shuttered supplier Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd

Reuters, SHANGHAI

The latest food scandal in China is spreading fast, dragging in US-based chain Starbucks Coffee Co, Burger King Worldwide Inc and others, as well as McDonald’s products as far away as Japan.

McDonald’s Corp and KFC’s parent Yum Brands Inc apologized to Chinese customers on Monday after it emerged that Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd (上海福喜食品), a unit of US-based OSI Group LLC, had supplied expired meat to the two chains.

Yesterday, Starbucks said some of its cafes previously sold products containing chicken originally sourced from Shanghai Husi Food Co, a firm that was shut down on Sunday by local regulators after a TV report showed staff using expired meat and picking up meat from the floor to add to the mix.

A Tokyo-based spokesman at McDonald’s Holdings Co (Japan) Ltd said the company had sourced about a fifth of its Chicken McNuggets from Shanghai Husi and had halted sales of the product on Monday. Alternative supplies of chicken have been found in Thailand and China, he added. The company’s shares briefly fell as much as 1.4 percent to a 15-month low before closing down 0.4 percent.

China’s food safety regulator said it ordered regional offices to carry out spot checks on all firms that had used Shanghai Husi products, and would inspect all of parent OSI’s sites around China to see whether enough has been done to ensure food safety. It said the case could be handed over to the police.

The regulator’s Shanghai branch said yesterday in a statement that it had demanded production, quality-control and sales records from OSI. It added that it already ordered McDonald’s to seal more than 4,500 boxes of meat products and Yum’s Pizza Hut to seal more than 500 boxes of beef.

Fast-food chain Burger King Worldwide Inc and Dicos (德克士), China’s No. 3 fast-food chain owned by Taiwan-based Ting Hsin International (頂新集團), said they would remove Shanghai Husi food products from their outlets. Pizza chain Papa John’s International Inc said on its Weibo blog that it had taken down all meat products supplied by Shanghai Husi and cut ties with the supplier.

China is McDonald’s third-biggest market by number of restaurants and Yum’s top market by revenue. McDonald’s was due to report quarterly earnings later yesterday.

The scare has stirred local consumers and become one of the most discussed topics online among the country’s influential netizens, with some users spreading long lists of firms thought to be tarnished.

The incident highlights the difficulty in ensuring quality and safety along the supply chain in China. Wal-Mart Stores Inc came under the spotlight early this year after a supplier’s donkey meat product was found to contain fox meat. It also came under fire for selling expired duck meat in 2011.

Starbucks said on its Chinese microblog that it had no direct business relationship with Shanghai Husi, but that some of its chicken acquired from another supplier had originally come from Husi for its “Chicken Apple Sauce Panini” products. This had been sold in 13 different provinces and major cities. The company added that all the products had already been removed from its shelves.

Burger King said in a Weibo statement posted late on Monday that it had removed all meat products supplied by Shanghai Husi Food and had launched a probe.

Dicos said it pulled all ham products supplied by Shanghai Husi and would stop serving its ham sandwich product for breakfast.

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