The investigation began after a Shanghai television station reported that Husi Food Co., owned by OSI Group of Aurora, Illinois, sold the expired meats to KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and Dicos, a sandwich shop chain. Husi Food Co. has been accused of repackaging the outdated chicken and beef and printing new expiration dates, CBS St. Louis reported.
Yum! Brands, which owns KFC and Pizza Hut, has stopped using the meat and has sealed it up so the agency can conduct its investigation. McDonald’s has done the same.
"At present, the company has been sealed and suspect products seized," the agency said on its website.
OSI and Husi Food Co. investigate, apologize
OSI Group, on its China website, issued the following statement: “OSI Group takes very seriously a recent media report on Dragon TV regarding products manufactured by its subsidiary, Shanghai Husi Food Co. Ltd. Company management was appalled by the report and is dealing with the issue directly and quickly. The company has formed an investigation team, is fully cooperating with inspections being conducted by relevant, supervising government agencies, and is also conducting its own internal review. The company is committed to sharing the investigation results with the public and taking all necessary actions based on those results.
“Food safety is the cornerstone of our company and our guiding principal when serving the needs of our customers. We have zero tolerance for any actions that compromise food safety. We sincerely apologize to our customers for any problems this has caused and to consumers who may be affected by these events. 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.”
Expired meat scandal the latest challenge for KFC China
The latest scandal is one of several public relations challenges for Yum! Brands. KFC, which is China’s largest restaurant chain with more than 4,000 locations, has been faced with its share of adversity and image problems since December 2012 when one of the companies suppliers had been giving chickens unapproved levels of antibiotics. Yum! Brands stopped using those suppliers, but consumers were still skeptical and KFC China sales severely dropped. KFC China sales also struggled in 2013 as China dealt with severe outbreaks of high-pathogenic strains of avian influenza.
However, parent company Yum! Brands has been bouncing back since facing these image problems. On July 16, the company reported its China division’s sales increased 21 percent with operating profit growth of 188 percent.