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Chinese meat scam now hits Japanese supermarket chain

Posted on Jul 23 2014 | IANS

Tokyo/Beijing, July 23 : The 24-hour Japanese convenience chain FamilyMart announced Wednesday it has stopped buying chicken from the Chinese company Husi, which was shut down after selling meat past its expiry date, even as police in China arrested five people in this connection.

FamilyMart became the second Japanese company to be hit by the Chinese meat scam after McDonald's subsidiary in Japan announced Tuesday it would stop serving chicken McNuggets, which were also supplied by Husi, Efe news agency reported.

McDonald's Holdings Japan, which last year imported 4,300 tonnes of McNuggets from the Shanghai-based meat processing firm, announced it would resume chicken sales in its 3,300 restaurants in Japan Wednesday, after finding new suppliers in China and Thailand.

Meawnhile, Chinese police Wednesday arrested five employees of Husi in Shanghai, Xinhua reported.

According to Shanghai's public security bureau, the five people from the company include a quality manager.

Zhang Hui, manager of Husi's quality department, confessed during investigations that the company has been conducting the malpractice for years under tacit approval of senior managers.

The meat scandal has also led to the withdrawal of some of the most popular items on menus of fast food chains Burger King, McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Burger King and Dicos in China, all of which bought meat supplies from Husi, the Efe report said.

The fraud was uncovered last week in a report on Chinese television channel Dragon TV, which led health authorities to shut down the Husi factory in Shanghai.

The Shanghai channel revealed Sunday that Husi had consistently falsified meat expiration dates.

The TV released footage filmed at the Husi plant showing how chicken discarded after routine checks were repeatedly reprocessed to pass quality controls.

The report, made with a hidden camera and undercover journalists, also showed employees picking up meat from the floor and throwing it into the grinder to make hamburgers.

A Husi director told the journalists top company executives had allowed personnel to use expired meat to make hamburgers.

Husi is the Chinese subsidiary of the OSI Group, a food processing company with its main US headquarters in Aurora, Illinois, that has issued a statement apologising for "the problems caused or if any consumer has been affected".

This is the latest case regarding food insecurity in China, one of the most serious problems affecting the country, where irregularities of this kind are on the rise leading to growing public concern.

This is not the first time that foreign fast food chains have been affected.

In 2012, KFC was involved in another such scandal when it was found buying chicken with excessive levels of antibiotics in Shanghai for two years despite being aware of it, according to authorities.

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