News / Asia

5 Arrested in China Fast-food Meat Scandal

Employees work at a production line prior to a seizure conducted by officers from the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, at the Husi Food factory in Shanghai, July 20, 2014.
Employees work at a production line prior to a seizure conducted by officers from the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, at the Husi Food factory in Shanghai, July 20, 2014.
Reuters

Shanghai police said on Wednesday they detained five people in an investigation into a Chinese-based supplier of foreign fast-food brands including KFC and McDonald's Corp over allegations the firm supplied out-of-date meat.

The five detained include the head of the company - Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd, a unit of U.S.-based OSI Group LLC - and the firm's quality manager, the police said in an online statement. It gave no other details.

McDonald's, Yum Brands Inc, the parent company of KFC and Pizza Hut, and coffee chain Starbucks Corp are among global brands to have pulled products from their outlets after it emerged that Shanghai Husi supplied expired meat to clients in China, as well as Japan, in the latest in a series of food safety scandals in the country.

Earlier, the official Xinhua news agency cited the Shanghai food and drug watchdog as saying that food safety violations at Shanghai Husi were company-led rather than the acts of individuals.

“We discovered that some of the company's illegal behavior was not the behavior of individuals, but rather an organized arrangement by the company,” Xinhua reported Gu Zhenhua, deputy head of the Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration, as saying.

Illinois-based OSI has said it was “appalled” and was investigating the matter after a Chinese TV report on Sunday showed staff at its Shanghai Husi facility using expired meat and picking up meat from the floor to add to the mix.

An official at OSI in China reached by telephone on Wednesday declined to comment further.

Different standards

Huang Denggang, 20, worked as a night cleaner at the Husi plant, a modern warehouse compound in a Shanghai suburb, for more than a year, but doesn't plan to return when it re-opens because of lower-than-expected pay and a medical claim.

He told Reuters on Wednesday that he saw workers pick up raw meat from the floor and put it back into processing containers.

“I've seen them pick meat pieces off the floor, though I can't say I know anything about expired meat because I'm not involved in that part of the factory,” he said at a local job agency where he works during the day. He showed Reuters his Husi payslip as verification of his employment there.

“The leader didn't say anything when you throw it back. When the raw meat falls out of a container from inside, you just pick it up and put it back,” he recalled, adding he also saw some workers not wear gloves while handling raw meat.

“If you wear gloves, maybe it slows you down if you want to pick up the chicken pieces because they're slippery. But again I don't work in that part of the factory. But I've seen them doing that [not wearing gloves],” he said.

Another Husi worker, who gave only the surname Zhang, said by telephone that he worked on the production line breaking up chicken into pieces. He said he quit because of the low pay.

“When it [raw meat] drops, they usually don't see it, and even if they do it was fine to pick it up and put it back,” he said. “There was an attitude of 'it doesn't really matter'.”

The former workers' comments contrasted with what one worker at another of OSI's food processing plants in Langfang in the northern Chinese province of Hebei told Reuters. He said that regulations there were very strict, all workers need to wear special clothes, and spot checks were often held unannounced.

“The inspections are done by everyone: our own company, the government and also clients like McDonald's. Our rules are very strict and food safety standards are very high,” said the worker, surnamed Wei, as he took a break at a nearby supermarket. He added the Hebei factory, which processes meat, vegetables and flour products according to its website, was still open for business despite ongoing government inspections.

‘Doctored records’

Xinhua also cited the Shanghai food watchdog's deputy head Gu as saying that Shanghai Husi's controls systems and records for suspected products violated Chinese regulations.

In the Dragon TV documentary on Sunday, staff at the Shanghai Husi facility said they kept two record books related to food products, one of which was doctored to be shown to anyone who came to audit the facility. 

According to the report, which claimed to show an inspection of the facility by McDonald's, Shanghai Husi staff were aware a day in advance of the visit and made sure that only compliant products were being processed on the day.

Separately, the Shanghai food watchdog said it had sealed more than 1,000 tons of suspected meat products from OSI in China, and a further 100 tons of products from a range of its customers.

In Japan, a spokesman for Seven & I Holdings Co Ltd  said a licensee in Shanghai had been selling two hamburger products using meat supplied by Shanghai Husi. Both products were removed from outlets on Monday.

A spokeswoman for FamilyMart Co Ltd said the Japanese convenience store chain had begun a supply deal with Shanghai Husi this month, selling a “Garlic Nugget” product at its around 10,000 stores in Japan. 

Another product, “Popcorn Chicken” began test-sales mainly in Tokyo this week. Sales of both products were halted on Tuesday. The company said there were no reports of any customers falling sick from the products.

“I am deeply sorry for causing this trouble and worry to all those involved,” FamilyMart President Isamu Nakayama told reporters in Tokyo. “We do not think there is any problem with our operating structure but the very fact that this happened means that I think that additional checks should be put into place to help reassure consumers.”

On Tuesday, 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.  

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
July 23, 2014 9:54 PM
In chinese law, the distinction between criminal sanctions, regulatory punishment and civil penalties is sometimes non-existent.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs