A suspect meat scandal in China engulfed Starbucks and Burger King on Tuesday and spread to Japan where McDonald’s said a Chinese supplier accused of selling expired beef and chicken had provided 20% of the meat in its chicken nuggets, The Guardian reported.
As Chinese authorities expanded their investigation of the Shanghai-based company Husi Food, which had its main processing plant sealed on Monday, food safety officers said they would inspect its facilities and meat sources in five provinces in central, eastern and southern China. The scandal surrounding Husi, which is owned by the OSI Group of Aurora, Illinois, has added to a string of safety scares in China over milk, medicines and other goods.
Food safety violations will be “severely punished”, the Chinese food agency said on its website.
Starbucks said on Tuesday it had taken sandwiches made with chicken that originated at Husi off the shelves and Burger King said it had stopped using hamburgers received from a supplier that used products from Husi.
The pizza chain Papa John’s also said it would stop using meat from Husi. In Japan, McDonald’s said it had stopped selling McNuggets at more than 1,300 outlets that used chicken supplied by Husi. It said the company had been supplying it with chicken since 2002.
A Shanghai broadcaster, Dragon TV, reported on Sunday that Husi had repackaged old beef and chicken and put new expiration dates on them. In a statement, Husi said it was “appalled by the report” and would cooperate with the investigation. It promised to share the results with the public.
“Our company management believes this to be an isolated event, but takes full responsibility for the situation and will take appropriate actions swiftly and comprehensively,” Husi said.
Food and drug safety is an unusually sensitive issue in China following scandals over the past decade in which infants, hospital patients and others have been killed or made ill by fake or adulterated milk powder, drugs and other goods.