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China detains five from U.S.-based meat supplier

The Chinese have asked their government to increase food inspections and ensure suppliers maintain food safety standards, an issue that has long affected the Chinese food industry.
By Ananth Baliga   |   July 23, 2014 at 11:29 AM  |  Updated July 23, 2014 at 11:30 AM   |   Comments

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BEIJING, July 23 (UPI) -- Shanghai Police have detained five people associated with a U.S.-owned meat supplier involved in supplying major fast food chains with expired beef and chicken.

The Shanghai food and safety bureau said Wednesday that investigators had seized nearly 100 tons of meat products from the Shanghai Husi Food Co., which is owned by the Illinois-based OSI Group. Chinese state television exposed the use of expired chicken and beef by popular fast food chains and multinationals functioning in China.

The five taken into custody include a company officer and the quality-control manager. Investigators have found that between June 18 and June 30, workers at Shanghai Husi used expired or rotting meat to produce Chicken McNuggets, beef patties and other food products, according to Xinhua, China's official news agency.

These products were reportedly sold to McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Starbucks, 7-Eleven and Taiwanese-owned Dicos. These companies have now stopped using any products from the supplier.

"We are no longer serving a product from the primary facility there that has the challenges and the issues," said Don Thompson, chief executive of McDonald's. "The matter is being thoroughly investigated. And we're cooperating fully with the authorities."

The scandal broke after Shanghai-based Dragon TV conducted a sting operation on Shanghai Husi using hidden cameras. The footage, broadcast Sunday, showed workers using expired chicken and beef to make burger patties and showed some employees picking up meat that had fallen on the floor and using it in the food products.

The development has sparked outrage in China with many blaming regulators for not enforcing food safety norms, something that has long plagued China's food industry. People have taken to social media asking the government to increase inspections and curb widespread rule-breaking and adulteration of food products.

Follow @antbaliga and @UPI on Twitter.
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