(NaturalNews) A U.S.-based supplier of meat and other protein products for McDonald's and KFC restaurants throughout China is under fire after an undercover investigation found that meat dropped on the floor or past its expiration date was being served to customers. And while McDonald's Corp. and Yum! Brands Inc., which owns KFC and several other fast food chains, have reportedly cut ties with OSI Group LLC as a supplier following the revelation, the incident further taints these two brands' public images.
Video footage aired during a recent TV report for Dragon Television showed workers at OSI's Shanghai Husi Food Co. picking up meat from the factory floor and packing it for distribution to McDonald's and KFC stores across China. These same workers were seen mixing fresh meat with meat that had already exceeded its expiration date, putting customers at risk of illness.
"An undercover Dragon Television reporter found that in June 18 tons of chicken skin that was over half a month past its expiry date had been used for chicken nuggets, and that beef more than a month past its expiry had been used for KFC burgers," explains Quartz. "The meat was pulverized and processed to extend its shelf life for another year."
When McDonald's meat didn't pass inspection, workers simply reprocessed it
Besides using old and potentially dangerous meat, workers at the plant were also caught on tape picking up meat from the floor and "throwing it into processing machines." And any meat that did not pass initial inspections, according to the report, was simply "reprocessed until [it] passed inspection," presumably to cut costs.
When asked about the quality and safety of the expired meat, workers at the plant told undercover reporters that, while the meat admittedly smelled funny, "eating it wouldn't kill you."
Responding to the claims and footage, Yum! Brands admitted that the mishandling of product affected two breakfast burgers sold at some of its stores. McDonald's, on the other hand, did not specify which of its products were affected by the safety hazards. The Shanghai Husi Food Co., however, has said it will cooperate with an official investigation into the matter.
"I think this is going to be really challenging for both these firms," stated Benjamin Cavender, the Shanghai-based lead of the China Market Research Group, to the New York Post. McDonald's and KFC, he inferred, are already struggling when it comes to how the public perceives the quality of their food, and this latest scandal will only further hurt those companies' reputations.
"I don't know that this is something an apology can fix so easily, because at this point people don't have a whole lot of trust that they have good systems in place," he added.
This is especially true following a 2012 scare involving chicken that had reportedly been pumped with large amounts of antibiotics. Both McDonald's and KFC were in the news back then as well, as their suppliers were among those guilty of selling the tainted meat. Following the scandal, Yum! Brands told the media that it had scrapped 1,000 small producers used by its 25 poultry suppliers.
"There is just no safe restaurant food in China," stated Chen Hao, a 34-year-old stock market analyst, to KOMO News. "I would never let my 9-year-old boy have KFC again."