Expired meat scandal
Global fast food giants were already having a hard time boosting their sales in the Chinese market because of the rising number of health-conscious consumers. Their difficulty has now multiplied thanks to a series of food safety scandals and people’s increasing aversion to the not-so-healthy food they serve.
A recent online poll conducted by Sina.com shows more than two-thirds of scandal-weary diners have lost trust inWestern fast-food companies because of the latest scandal, or chou wen in Chinese, over the possible use of expired meat products, or guo qi rou.
A local media outlet in Shanghai reported on Sunday that Shanghai Husi Food Co, a Chinese subsidiary of US-based OSI Group, had reprocessed expired beef and chicken, stamped their packets with new expiry dates and supplied them to a string of fast-food chains, includingMcDonald’s and KFC. The two American fast food chains were still recovering from the impact of an earlier scandal over the excessive use of antibiotics in chicken when the latest food scare dealt them another blow.
Food safety has become a matter of great concern, and China has taken several measures to address the issue. Premier Li Keqiang promised earlier this year to make people responsible for food safety scandals “pay an unaffordable price”. It is such “unaffordable” price that people and enterprises, including foreign companies, breaking food safety laws should be made to pay.
While the latest scandal involving foreign food companies serves as a wake-up call for many consumers who swear by foreign brands amid the trust crisis facing the domestic food industry, it also offers more food for thought. Despite the growing health consciousness in China, young people still fancy Western fast food, an unhealthy option for children and adolescents that can be harmful to their health in the long run. And this fear is no less grave than the latest food safety scandal.