Broadcast Prompts Apologies from McDonald’s, Carrefour

McDonald’s and Carrefour issued apologies after Chinese state television marked World Consumer Right Day on Thursday by airing an investigative report accusing both of improper food safety practices. From The Washington Post:

The report Thursday said a McDonald’s restaurant in Beijing sold chicken wings 90 minutes after they were cooked while the company’s rules set a 30-minute limit. It said employees at a Carrefour store in the central city of Zhengzhou changed expiration dates on some chicken and sold regular chickens as more expensive free-range birds.

Food safety is a sensitive issue in China, which has been rocked by scandals ranging from deadly infant formula to chemical-laced pork and recycled restaurant oil.

A People’s Daily article on Thursday evening contained more details from the broadcast:

Cheeses which were going bad were still used for making cheeseburgers in McDonald’s. Workers were also found modify desserts’ expiry time or even re-pack them for selling again. Worse still, the dropped cutlets were directly pick up for use again.

An employee of a McDonald’s restaurant in Sanlitun, Beijing’s downtown, said that these are usual practices for McDonald’s restaurants in China to sell expired food rather than follow the working instructions.

Dare you enjoy McDonald’s food anymore?

The Ministry of Tofu posted photos of reporters flooding McDonald’s Sanlitun location in Beijing to request comment, and posted a number of netizen comments from Sina Weibo. A number of posts indicate support for McDonald’s and skepticism over CCTV’s motives, according to the post:

广博雅正_丶航:I have the feeling that this is gonna be a hit. CCTV, if you have time, hide in state-owned enterprises. Guess you must have hidden in M for several months.

等不急的青青: I trust! I absolutely have faith (in McDonalod’s)! Damn. Why don’t CCTV expose the gutter oil, poisonous milk and poisonous eggs? However bad McDonald’s is, it must be better than some restaurants who got sanitation certificates!

@吃拧了 :Even though I usually don’t eat junk food, McDonald’s are among the best in terms of sanitation. Quality SOP (standard operating procedure), uniform supply chain, electronic and efficient ordering system, fast and convenient delivery management system, and its marketing and PR, these are all what Chinese businesses should learn. Guess any restaurant in today’s China would be dirtier than McDonald’s.

Bloomberg reports that China’s State Food and Drug Administration asked McDonald’s to carry out a food safety inspection in all of its China restaurants. McDonald’s issued an apology through its official microblog an hour after the progam aired, according to the China Daily:

“We will launch an immediate and serious investigation into this case, which is rare and alone, and take actions to show our regret to the customers,” said McDonald’s China, “after this event, we will deepen our management to ensure business codes are in place and provide safe and healthy food for the customers.”

Its cyber apology has attracted more than 3,000 comments and has been reposted nearly 10,000 times. Many netizens focused on the way McDonald’s handled the crisis.

“Micro blog is indeed the prime choice for a quick response to a crisis. It’s good to make a candid apology in short order, but it’s too early to claim it as an individual event,” a netizen said.

But more netizens felt angry at this accident, saying the crisis tactics could not cover up the inherent lack of self-discipline from McDonald’s.

Bloomberg adds that Carrefour also issued a “sincered apology” via its Weibo account, promising an investigation and cooperation with authorities. The People’s Daily published the below screen shot from the broadcast, which it claims to show that the price of free-range chicken is twice as high as feather-stripped chicken in a Carrefour’s supermarket in Henan province: