07/22/2014, 00.00
CHINA
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Government announces nation-wide investigation in the wake of "bad meat" scandal

After undercover report shows the use of bad ingredients in making fast food products, Starbucks also pulls some products from the market. The government says lawbreakers will be "severely punished", but food scandals seem an incurable plague in the country.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China's food safety agency announced a nationwide investigation into processing factories and meat suppliers used by the Shanghai Husi Food Company, which has been accused of selling expired products to large chains.

Violations will be "severely punished," the agency said. Meanwhile, Starbucks has joined other fast-food giants and pulled the products that contain meat from Shanghai Husi Food Company.

The company is in the eye of the storm after a report by Dragon TV, taped undercover, shows  workers recycling green meat, change products' expiration dates and use discarded food.

Immediately after the broadcast, McDonald's and other fast food giants - including Yum Brands, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken - stopped selling several products in China.

Husi's parent company OSI has apologised to customers, saying it has set up an investigation team and was fully cooperating with inspections conducted by the authorities.

"Our ... management believes this to be an isolated event, but takes full responsibility for the situation and will take appropriate actions swiftly and comprehensively," its statement said.

The lack of food safety and other food scandals seem to be an incurable plague in mainland China. In recent years, thanks to the total lack of government controls, the Asian giant has been at the centre of a rash of food-related scandals.

In 2008, six infants died and another 300,000 fell ill from drinking melamine-tainted milk powder, the poisonous add-on was used to raise the nitrogen level in milk to boost its protein content.

Other cases involved toothpaste made with chemical reagents, rat sold as lamb, glue-tainted shrimps, and even pesticide-laden green tea.

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