China’s top New Year’s resolution for 2014 was to increase food safety, but much like our own ironclad intentions to get fit and learn to crochet, six months later it seems to have been a lot of empty talk.
The latest public health scandal in China concerns the Shanghai Husi Food Co., which has been supplying expired beef and chicken to McDonald’s and Yum (which owns KFC and Pizza Hut). A local investigative news channel aired some stomach-turning revelations, reports Quartz:
According to Dragon Television, workers admitted that the meat smelled but that eating it wouldn’t kill you, which sounds like a line from Sweeney Todd. The report also uncovered worrying practices such as picking meat off the floor and throwing it into processing machines, and “reprocessing” discarded McNuggets until they passed inspection. What “reprocessing” a nugget actually involves is something we’d rather not dwell on.
Reuters reports that McDonald’s and Yum apologized to customers today and pledged to stop using Shanghai Husi. The meat supplier, which is owned by American company OSI Group LLC, was shut down by regulators yesterday while they investigate. OSI in China also has Starbucks, Papa John’s, Burger King, and Subway on its books, but Reuters says “it’s unclear whether the meat supplier…may have sold goods to other clients too.”
While this story is horrific, some Chinese consumers are so used to this kind of thing they barely bat an eyelid. Food safety scandals are so common in China that there’s an app to track them, and Reuters quoted one McDonald’s customer in Shanghai asking “Isn’t everywhere like this?”.