Instant chickens' food scandal

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Instant chickens' food scandal. [File photo]

The Suhai Group, based in northern China's Shanxi Province, was a major chicken supplier to KFC and McDonald's. In late Nov. 2012, media reports claimed that it had added industrial chemicals to chicken feed in order to make them grow faster -- 45 days for one chick to grow big enough for the slaughter.

Suhai Group did not respond to these allegations until Nov. 24, 2012. However, KFC's China stores said that they had always attached great importance to food safety and only about one percent of its chickens were actually supplied by Suhai Group. McDonald's in China stated that Suhai was not its current supplier.

On Dec. 19, 2012, KFC said it would fully co-operate with the Chinese government and it severely castigate any violation by any supplier. Besides, McDonald's said that its chicken products complied with stringent food quality standards and had passed the Chinese government's quality checks.

Shanxi Province's Department of Agriculture on Dec. 4, 2012 announced its findings on the poultry breeding of Suhai Group: 17 samples extracted from Suhai, including samples of the chicken feed and its raw materials, were all found to be in line with the national standards on feed hygiene and assorted feed for broilers.

According to a China Central Television news program on Dec. 18, 2012, several poultry suppliers in Shandong Province were also found to be accelerating the growth of chickens by using harmful chemicals in their feed. Those suppliers, including the Liuhe Group, were supplying chicken meat to KFC and McDonald's.

Within eight days after the revelations, KFC, Yoshinoya, Shanghai Belmont (headquarter of Yonghe King) together with McDonald's had been exposed to be either directly or indirectly buying chickens from Liuhe. Together with Pizza Hut, Pizza Hut Just-in-Time and Dawning East, also likely to have purchased tainted chicken meat, seven fast-food chain brands were embroiled in the scandal.

In Beijing, chicken from Liuhe has been banned from sales at 23 restaurants and food companies, including fast-food chain Beijing Yoshinoya Co., according to Xinhua news agency.

Several dishes containing the allegedly contaminated meat have been withdrawn from sales at Yoshinoya restaurants throughout the capital, Xinhua said.

In Shanghai, several of the Yoshinoya restaurant staff said their chicken dishes were still available, but refused to disclose whether or not the chicken was acquired from the Liuhe Group.

McDonald's said the Liuhe Group was a second-tier supplier, supplying chicken to its two main suppliers, Shanghai Television reported. It stopped using the raw chicken delivered by Liuhe on Dec. 18.

On Jan. 10, 2013, Su Jingshi, chairman and CEO of Yum! Restaurants China, published an open letter to customers, apologizing for the company's shortcomings in the treatment of the so-called "instant chickens" scandal. Su also noted that the company would improve its future management quality and take concrete actions to win back the consumers' trust.