Chinese Not Lovin' Fast Food Meat Scandal

PHOTO: Pedestrians pass by a McDonalds restaurant in Beijing, July 22, 2014. Ng Han Guan/AP Photo
Pedestrians pass by a McDonald's restaurant in Beijing, July 22, 2014.

McNuggets and other popular items are disappearing from menus at McDonalds, KFC and other fast food restaurants in China after a major supplier of beef, chicken and pork was shut down for allegedly violating numerous safety regulations, including mixing in chicken and beef parts that were months beyond their expiration date.

The Shanghai Husi Food Company has been shuttered this week after a TV report captured footage of the alleged violations.

Shanghai Husi Food Company supplies meat and chicken to McDonald’s, Burger King, Papa Johns and Yum Brands, the owner of KFC and Pizza Hut in China.

Following the TV report, China Food and Drug Administration announced on its website that it had shut down Shanghai Husi Company. In addition, inspectors would look at processing sites and meat sources in five other provinces and would “severely punish” violators.

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Shanghai Husi Food is owned by OSI Group, an Illinois-based food-processing company. According to their website, the company has been supplying McDonald’s in China for 22 years and Yum Brands for six years.

The video footage captured by Dragon TV showed workers touching meat with ungloved hands, picking up meat from the factory floor and throwing it back to the processor. The report also showed workers mixing two weeks out-of-date chicken meat into fresh meat to make Chicken McNuggets. It showed the workers using frozen beef that was allegedly seven months beyond its expiration date, reportedly already green and odorous.

McDonald’s and Yum Brands have released statements saying they had stopped using meet from Shanghai Husi Food and started investigations. Both companies apologized to the public. The statements also said their restaurants may face a shortage of certain products. Yum Brands identified its KFC sausage and egg burger and a spicy roasted burger. McDonald’s did not specify any products.

Starbucks has removed its chicken and apple paninis from cafes in Shanghai because the meat came from Shanghai Husi Food Company, Starbucks said.

The company also supplies fast food chains in Japan, and McDonalds has taken McNuggets off the menu of its 1,700 restaurants in Japan.

Shanghai Husi Food’s parent company OSI Group released a statement on its official website apologizing and stating the company believes the health violations to be an isolated event, but OSI said it took full responsibility for the situation. The statement said the company has formed an investigation team and is cooperating with the government agencies.

Food safety has been a recurring frustrations among the Chinese in recent years. Chinese brand baby formula was found to be contaminated by melamine, prompting Chinese parents to buy baby formula all over the world outside of China. Other nationwide food scandals have included using gutter oil in cooking and mixing rat meat with lamb in hot-pot dishes. Last year thousands of dead pigs were dumped into a river that provided drinking water to Shanghai.

International fast-food companies like McDonald’s and KFC are generally believed have higher standards of food quality in China.

Reactions to the latest allegations were mixed in a Beijing McDonalds. A 40-year-old lady who works in the finance sector told ABC News she would definitely avoid all meat products from fast food restaurants in the future. The woman, who declined to give her name, enjoyed an ice cream cone instead of a burger.

Office worker Sui Hongbo, however, just shrugged over the news while eating chicken wings and McChicken Burger.

“In China, it doesn’t really matter what you eat, everything is unhealthy and unclean anyway," Hongbo, 35, said. "This is nothing compared to a whole host of other things.”