The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 07/20/2014 10:58 PM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 07/23/2014 7:34 AM
BEIJING, China - Five employees of a company accused of selling expired beef and chicken to McDonald's, KFC and other restaurants in China were detained by police Wednesday after an official said illegal activity was an organized effort by the supplier.
China's food safety agency said on its website that its investigators found unspecified illegal activity by Husi Food Co. but gave no confirmation expired meat had been found or other details.
Some of the illegal conduct was an "arrangement organized by the company," the deputy director of the agency's Shanghai bureau, Gu Zhenghua, told the official Xinhua News Agency.
Those in criminal detention include Husi's quality manager, the Shanghai police department said on its microblog account. The one-sentence statement gave no details of possible charges or the employees' identities.
The scandal surrounding Husi, which is owned by OSI Group of Aurora, Illinois, has alarmed Chinese diners and disrupted operations for fast food chains.
It erupted Sunday when a Shanghai broadcaster, Dragon TV, reported that Husi repackaged old beef and chicken and put new expiration dates on them. It said they were sold to McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants.
Xinhua said the manager of Husi's quality department, Zhang Hui, told investigators "such meat had been produced under tacit approval of the company's senior managers." It said the company "has been conducting the malpractice for years."
An employee who answered the phone at the food agency office in Shanghai declined to give any additional details.
A woman who answered the phone at Husi's Shanghai headquarters said the company would not comment until the investigation was completed. She declined to give her name.
Restaurant operators that have withdrawn products made with meat from Husi include McDonald's Corp., KFC owner Yum Brands Inc., pizza chain Papa John's International Inc., Starbucks Corp., Burger King Corp. and Dicos, a Taiwanese-owned sandwich shop chain.
The scare has also spread to Japan, where McDonald's said 20 per cent of the meat for its chicken nuggets was supplied by Husi.
Product safety is unusually sensitive in China following scandals over the past decade in which infants, hospital patients and others have been killed or sickened by phoney or adulterated milk powder, drugs and other goods.
Husi said in a statement earlier this week it was "appalled by the report" and believed it to be an "isolated event." It promised to co-operate with the investigation and to share the results with the public.
The State Food and Drug Administration's statement Wednesday said investigators seized 160 tons of raw material and 1,100 tons of finished products from Husi. The agency said earlier its investigation would extend to Husi facilities in Shanghai and five other provinces.
During a conference call Tuesday to discuss its financial results, McDonald's Corp. CEO Don Thompson said the company felt a "bit deceived" about the plant in question.
Foreign fast food brands are seen as more reliable than Chinese competitors, though local brands have made big improvements in quality.
KFC, China's biggest restaurant chain with more than 4,000 outlets and plans to open 700 more this year, was hit hard by a report in December 2013 that some poultry suppliers violated rules on drug use in chickens. Sales plunged and KFC overhauled quality controls, cutting ties with more than 1,000 small poultry suppliers.
Associated Press researchers Fu Ting in Shanghai and Yu Bing in Beijing contributed.
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Takeover may mean new life for ad firm
Apple devotees camp out in pursuit of the joy of 6
Work smarter, not harder
With Alibaba's big debut, 10 things to know
Travel biz pleads for regulation
New indictment against ex-BP exec
Attractiveness rating disappointing
OSC reaches settlement with Ernst & Young
Finding purpose is worth far more than money
Ohio creator of Slush Puppies dead at age 74
Moody's backs UK bond rating after Scotland vote
Lack of will to employ 24-hour road crews
Most actively traded companies on the TSX
How the Dow Jones industrial average did Friday
Fitch keeps 'AAA' rating on US credit
Flight attendants reach tentative deal with AA
New Brunswick looks for new McKenna miracle
Stock indexes end mixed after Alibaba debuts
Greece: New bailout 'out of the question'
Ohio creator of Slush Puppies dead at age 74
Guilty verdict in peanut trial should send warning
Alibaba stock soars in jubilant trading debut
Al Jazeera America sues former VP Gore
Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets
Initial public offerings scheduled to debut next week
A sampling of works from the Wexner Collection
Exxon to wind down Russian drilling project
Stocks rise slightly at midday as Alibaba debuts
Pabst Brewing to be sold to Russian company
Inflation unchanged in August: StatCan
Manitoba's wholesale numbers up in July
Manitoba sees no change in inflation rate
Grain lower, livestock mixed
Russian investigators deny billionaire's release
Gauge of US economy edges up 0.2 per cent in August
Broken rail blamed for 2012 Ohio train derailment
Keystone XL costs surge, TransCanada says
Algonquin Power makes U.S. acquisition
Stocks up early as Alibaba stock is set to debut