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China fast food scandal spreads

Tuesday, July 22 08:57:34

The latest food scandal in China is spreading fast, dragging in U.S. coffee chain Starbucks , 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 apologised to Chinese customers on Monday after it emerged that Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd, a unit of U.S.-based OSI Group LLC, had supplied expired meat to the two chains.

On Tuesday, Starbucks said some of its cafes previously sold products containing chicken originally sourced from Shanghai Husi, 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 watchdog said it ordered regional offices to carry out spot checks on all firms which had used Shanghai Husi products, and would inspect all of parent OSI's sites around China to see if 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 in a statement on Tuesday it had demanded production, quality control and sales records from OSI. It added it already ordered McDonald's to seal over 4,500 boxes of suspected meat products and Yum's Pizza Hut to seal over 500 boxes of beef.

Food safety is one of the top issues for Chinese consumers after a scandal in 2008 where dairy products tainted with the industrial chemical melamine led to the deaths of six infants and made many thousands sick. Other food scandals have hit the meat and dairy industries in recent years, and many Chinese look to foreign brands as offering higher safety standards.

(Reuters) For more visit: www.businessworld.ie