Western Companies Face Food Adulteration Problem in China

China Bans Fonterra Milk-Powder Imports

Fonterra Co-operative Group faced protein adulteration in 2008

Controversy: New Zealand’s Fonterra owned 43 percent of China’s Sanlu Group when the mainland company was among many implicated in a scandal involving the addition of melamine to milk, making watered- down products appear to contain more protein. Six children died and 300,000 others became ill.

Outcome: Fonterra wrote down the $113 million value of its stake in Sanlu, which went bankrupt.

KFC Restaurants (Yum! Brands) supplied chicken supplied with excessive antibiotics in 2012

Controversy: A Chinese state television investigation found chicken suppliers had fed birds—including some sold at Yum’s KFC restaurants in China— large amounts of antibiotics and hormones to boost their weight.

Outcome: Yum in January 2013 apologized for lapses in its supply chain. Sales at KFC’s restaurants in China fell 20 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

Yum! Brands’s restaurants served adulterated lamb meat in 2013

Controversy: Yum’s Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot restaurants, the largest chain of Mongolian hot pot eateries in China, lost business after rival chains were found to be serving chicken, fox, and rat meat masquerading as lamb.

Outcome: Yum, whose restaurants were never accused of selling mislabeled meat, took a $258 million write-down of the value of the Little Sheep chain in 2013.

A Tesco Store in Guangzhou, China

Tesco was accused of selling adulterated mutton in 2013

Controversy: An undercover investigation by a Shanghai television station claimed the big British retailer’s stores in China were selling meat labeled as mutton that was actually 95 percent duck.

Outcome: Tesco quickly removed the meat from store shelves and said it was investigating the suspect product’s provenance with its supplier.

Carrefour was accused of selling adulterated beef balls in 2013

Controversy: The French supermarket operator took heat last year when state-controlled China National Radio reported that the “Juicy beef balls” sold in its Lishuiqiao store in Beijing contained no beef.

Outcome: The retailer, which has more than 200 outlets in Chinese cities, quickly pulled the products from stores and promised to investigate suppliers.

Wal-Mart was accused of selling contaminated meat in 2014

Controversy: Wal-Mart in January recalled its Five Spice donkey meat sold in some of its Chinese stores after the meat was found to contain the DNA of other animals, including fox.

Outcome: The U.S.-based retail giant, which recalled the products and is reimbursing customers, apologized and said it’s working with safety officials in Shandong to investigate suppliers.

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