McDonald’s, Illinois Food Company Implicated in China Meat Safety Scandal

mcdonald's meat scandal
Food Safety Contamination
mcdonald's meat scandal
CREDIT: REUTERS/BOBBY YIP

A food safety scare erupted this past weekend in China as television reports showed staff at a meat-supplier using long-expired meat products and picking up dropped food from the floor to add back into the stock. The supplier, Shanghai Husi Food, provides fast food outlets like KFC, Starbucks, and McDonald’s with much of their meat, and is owned by Illinois-based OSI Group.

China’s food regulator has sent investigators to 600 businesses, restaurants, and distributors to determine the scope of the scandal. So far, police in Shanghai have detained 5 people, including the head and quality chief of Shanghai Husi Food.

As for the Chinese restaurants involved, McDonald’s initially said it would shift imports to another OSI plant in the province of Henan. A few days later, they suspended sales of all chicken products. Yum Brands, Inc., owner of KFC and Pizza Hut, has severed ties with OSI altogether.

But the Chinese supplier was also responsible for supplying restaurants outside that country.

In Japan, McDonald’s Holdings Co. said it has stopped all imports of chicken products from China, opting to get their product from suppliers in Thailand instead. Last year, McDonald’s Japan received 62 percent of their chicken from Thailand, and the remainder from China.

Read: Should You Worry About ‘Mystery’ Chicken from China?

OSI says the incident was facility-specific and the same low standards are not found at other supplier locations.

“What happened at Husi Shanghai is completely unacceptable. We will bear the responsibility of these missteps, and will make sure they never happen again,” said CEO and Chairman Sheldon Lavin in a statement apologizing to Chinese consumers.

China is no stranger to food safety scares, and this latest scandal is being treated with swift attention.

Products from Shanghai Husi Food are being wrapped and disposed of. The Centre for Food Safety in Hong Kong assured customers that the products would all be sealed, marked, and banned pending the results of the ongoing investigation.

Thus far, no reports of illness from the tainted meat have surfaced.