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Big Mac banished from China for now

FEWER OFFERINGS: A notice in a McDonald's restaurant in Shanghai saying that there is only a limited menu available. PHOTO: AFP


    Jul 29, 2014

    Big Mac banished from China for now


    IF YOU want a burger from McDonald's in China's biggest cities, you will have to get one made with fish.

    Beef, pork and chicken items were eliminated at the chain, after supplier OSI Group recalled all products made at its Shanghai unit on Sunday.

    The Aurora, Illinois-based company, which supplies customers including McDonald's and KFC owner Yum! Brands, is accused of repackaging old meat as new. The meat scare is fuelling concerns that China has yet to ensure the safety of its food chain.

    The latest episode, involving a foreign-owned company, suggests the problems affect even suppliers previously thought safe.

    "We are now offering only a limited menu in our restaurants around the country," McDonald's China unit said in a statement yesterday.

    At a McDonald's in central Beijing, counter staff told customers that the branch had only the Filet-O-Fish sandwich.

    At every cash register, there were signs in both Chinese and English reading: "We regret to let you know that currently we will be able to provide only a limited menu at our restaurant."

    It was unclear how wide the shortages are. By the end of April, McDonald's had more than 2,000 restaurants in China, according to its website.

    OSI was "compelled to withdraw all products manufactured by Shanghai Husi" and replace its management team in China, the company said in a statement on Sunday.

    Initially, concern focused on Shanghai Husi's chicken and beef following a July 20 report on local TV showing workers repackaging and selling the meat past their sell-by dates. The recall has now spread to all products made by the Shanghai unit, including pork.

    The Chinese authorities have ordered Shanghai Husi's plant to shut for allegedly selling expired products. Local police detained five people in connection with an investigation into the meat supplier, the Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration said last week.

    The owner of OSI Group apologised in person to Chinese consumers at a news conference in Shanghai yesterday.

    "What happened at Shanghai Husi was completely unacceptable and I hope that you will accept my personal and most sincere apology - I am very, very sorry," chairman and chief executive Sheldon Lavin told a room packed with mainly Chinese journalists.

    The "bad meat" scandal, as it has been called by Chinese media, has spread to Japan and Hong Kong.

    McDonald's said on Friday that its more than 3,000 restaurants in Japan had stopped selling products made with chicken from China, regardless of supplier.

    Hong Kong McDonald's have removed from their menus Chicken McNuggets, McSpicy chicken filet, fresh corn cups, iced lemon tea, green salad and grilled chicken salad.