Chinese Food Scandal, Japan Reacts

Again, a food scandal involving unsanitary practices at a major meat processing company. It happens everywhere, not only in China, but this time, the ramifications are huge for the cheap meat/fast food retailers like McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks and even FamilyMart in Japan and others around the world.

First, it was thought that the Husi company in Shanghai only supplied local Chinese outlets with hamburgers and chicken products.

Quickly, on Tuesday we learnt that here in Japan, McDonald's and FamilyMart (Sankei, J) use the same supplier.

So much for consumer choice in the 21th century. Economists tell us we will get more and more at lower prices, while what consumers get is just more of the same, and the only way we know how it is produced is when whistle-blowers reveal the outrageous conditions. Plus, we get all that fun and bright advertising, of course. Which we pay for, indirectly, but still.

This case started to unravel as a clever and courageous camera team got inside the dirty factory. Way to go.

Food Safety News: Chinese TV Report Prompts McDonald’s and KFC to Drop U.S.-Owned Supplier

China’s Dragon TV has thrust a Chicago-area meat supplier into the arms of its crisis communications team with public apologies and promises for quick corrective action. But Aurora, [Illinois]-based OSI Group could not act fast enough to stop McDonald’s and Yum! Brands Inc.’s KFC from cutting business ties with its Shanghai Husi Food Co. Ltd.
Late Sunday, the Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration shut Shanghai Husi down.
Dragon TV’s aired report purportedly shows workers at Shanghai Husi picking up meat from the factory floor as well as mixing meat beyond its expiration date with fresh meat. Workers were also recorded as saying that customers would not buy the company’s products if they knew what was going on.
Both McDonald’s and KFC used Shanghai Husi as a meat supplier.

As far as I am concerned, after years of working on food safety issues, the cause of this is not the young manager who makes a wrong call, although he should know better. The pressure comes from the owner of the factory, who knows he is but a cog in a wheel of a larger concern that is listed on Wall Street like any other producer, be it cars or tanks or wind shield wipers... And the consensus among those who share the same profit-only mind set is what makes them order people to:

The report showed an e-mail from management, which allegedly asked employees to extend the expiry date of 10 tonnes of frozen beef. The meat, reportedly already green and odorous, was reprocessed, refrozen and repackaged with a new expiry date, the report alleged.
The report featured footage showing staff picking up food from the floor and throwing it into processing machines.
Discarded Chicken McNuggets, a McDonald's staple, could be seen being reprocessed until they passed inspection. The report indicated that clients did not know about the practices.

Even your chicken or meatballs at Ikea may have been tainted (meatballs often contain all kinds of meat, not just "beef products" that can contain all kinds of meat and other stuff - like "edible offal" from cows, do search for that, if you have the guts, pun intended...):

Swedish retailer Ikea also said it had bought chicken meat for its mainland branches from the factory between September 2012 and August last year, adding that it was "highly concerned about the ingredient quality issue".

Source: South China Morning Post

And how they lie to cover up?

According to Bloomberg, "The meat was sold to locations in China and Japan, Heidi Barker, a U.S. spokeswoman for McDonald’s, said in an e-mail. The facility had only supplied the Shanghai market, not all of China, she said. In Japan, McNuggets was the sole affected item"

Not true, as FamilyMart has later tonight announced that they also had to recall meat products that came from the Husi factory in Shanghai. More details from Bloomberg:

This is the second time in less than two years that McDonald’s and Yum have been hit by a food safety issue involving Chinese suppliers. In December 2012, Shanghai authorities said that tests conducted from 2010 to 2011 by a third-party agency found high levels of antibiotics in eight batches of chicken supplied to Yum by Liuhe Group Co. The company also supplied McDonald’s in China at the time. 


Pandabonium said…
Irony of irony is that even if such "food" is safe - not "expired"- it is still garbage that is unfit for consumption. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. anyone?

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