China meat scandal hits Starbucks, Burger King

McDonald’s and KFC said they stopped using chicken from Husi. Above, stores in Beijing.
McDonald’s and KFC said they stopped using chicken from Husi. Above, stores in Beijing.

BEIJING — A meat scandal in China engulfed Starbucks and Burger King on Tuesday and spread to Japan, where McDonald’s said the Chinese supplier accused of selling expired beef and chicken had provided 20 percent of the meat for its chicken nuggets.

Chinese authorities expanded their investigation of the meat supplier, Shanghai’s Husi Food Co. A day after Husi’s food processing plant in Shanghai was sealed by the China Food and Drug Administration, the agency said Tuesday that inspectors will look at its facilities and sources in five provinces in central, eastern, and southern China.

The scandal surrounding Husi Food, owned by OSI Group of Aurora, Ill., has added to a string of safety scares in China over milk, medicines, and other goods that have left the public wary of dairies, restaurants, and other suppliers.


Food safety violations will be severely punished, the food agency said on its website.

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Starbucks Corp. said Tuesday that it removed from its shelves sandwiches made with chicken that originated at Husi. Burger King Corp. said it stopped using hamburger it received from a supplier that used products from Husi. Pizza restaurant chain Papa John’s International Inc. announced it stopped using meat from Husi.

In Japan, McDonald’s Corp. said it stopped selling McNuggets at more than 1,300 outlets that used chicken supplied by Husi. It said the Shanghai company had been supplying chicken to it since 2002.

A Shanghai broadcaster, Dragon TV, reported Sunday that Husi repackaged old beef and chicken and put new expiration dates on them. It said they were sold to McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut.

McDonald’s and Yum Brands Inc., which owns KFC and Pizza Hut, said they stopped using meat from Husi.


During a call to discuss its quarterly earnings Tuesday, chief executive Don Thompson said McDonald’s felt deceived about the plant in question.

A third restaurant chain, Taiwanese-owned Dicos, also stopped using meat from Husi.

In a statement, Husi said it was ‘‘appalled by the report’’ and will cooperate with the investigation. It promised to share 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,’’ Husi said.

Some companies said they did not deal with Husi but discovered their suppliers bought meat from the company.


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 sickened by phony or adulterated milk powder, drugs, and other goods.

Foreign fast food brands are seen as more reliable than Chinese competitors, though local brands have made big improvements in quality.