Shanghai police have arrested five people in an investigation into a supplier of foreign fast-food brands, including KFC and McDonald’s.
The firm – Shanghai Husi Food Company – is alleged to have supplied clients in China and Japan with products using out-of-date meat.
McDonald’s, Yum Brands, the parent company of KFC and Pizza Hut, and coffee chain Starbucks are among the global brands that have pulled products from their outlets after the news broke.
Husi is a division of a US-based firm – OSI Group – which said it was “appalled” and is investigating the matter.
Police said those who had been detained included the head of the company and its quality manager.
That ties in with a report from the official Xinhua news agency. It cited the Shanghai food and drug watchdog as saying that food safety violations at Shanghai Husi were company-led rather than ad hoc by individual workers.
“We discovered that some of the company’s illegal behaviour was not the behaviour of individuals, but rather an organised arrangement by the company,” Xinhua reported Gu Zhenhua, deputy head of the Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration, as saying.
The allegations are backed by video evidence. A Chinese TV report showed staff at a Shanghai Husi facility using meat that was past it use by date and picking up meat from the floor to add to the food mix.
In a documentary made by Dragon TV, staff at the Shanghai Husi facility said they kept two record books related to food products, one of which was doctored to be shown to anyone who came to audit the facility.
According to the report, which claimed to show an inspection of the facility by McDonald’s, Shanghai Husi staff were aware a day in advance of the visit and made sure that only compliant products were being processed on the day.