Wal-Mart Stores Inc is recalling Five Spice donkey meat sold at some outlets in China after tests showed the product contained the DNA of other animals.
Wal-Mart has announced it will reimburse customers who bought the tainted donkey meat and is helping authorities in eastern Shandong province investigate its Chinese supplier, the firm said late on Wednesday on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.
The Shandong Food and Drug Administration earlier said the product contained fox meat.
The scandal could dent Wal-Mart’s reputation for quality in China’s $1 trillion food and grocery market where it plans to open 110 new stores in the next few years. China is the largest grocery market in the world and is set to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2016, according to the Institute of Grocery Distribution.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc is recalling Five Spice donkey meat sold at some outlets in China after tests showed the product contained the DNA of other animals
“This is another hit on Wal-Mart’s brand, meaning wealthy shoppers will start to lose the trust they had before,” said Shaun Rein, Shanghai-based managing director of China Market Research Group. CMR estimates Wal-Mart’s market share fell from 7.5% to 5.2% over the last three years.
Donkey meat is a popular snack in some areas of China, although it only accounts for a tiny fraction of overall meat consumption. In 2011 China slaughtered 2.4 million donkeys, according to country’s livestock industry yearbook.
Wal-Mart, French grocer Carrefour SA, McDonald’s Corp and KFC-parent Yum Brands Inc among others, have come under fire before in China over food safety issues, a sensitive topic in a country riddled with scares from a fatal tainted milk scandal to recycled “gutter oil” used for cooking.
Wal-Mart said it had set up an investigation team to look into the incident, would strengthen food safety rules and take legal action against the product supplier. It added the person in charge at the supplier factory had already been detained.
“The study found that anything from soya, donkey, goat and water buffalo were to be found in up to 68% of the 139 minced meats, burger patties, deli meats, sausages and dried meats that were tested. In other cases, even undeclared plant matter was detected.”
These ingredients were not declared on the products’ packaging labels, it said.
A study published by South Africa’s Stellenbosch University found that donkey, water buffalo and goat meat have been sold as burgers and sausages in South Africa
The study was done by experts from the Stellenbosch University’s Department of Animal Sciences and the Food & Allergy Consulting & Testing Services in Milnerton, Cape Town.
“Our study confirms that the mislabelling of processed meats is commonplace in South Africa and not only violates food labelling regulations, but also poses economic, religious, ethical and health impacts,” one of the researchers, Louwrens Hoffman, is quoted as saying.
Practicing Muslims and Jews, who constitute significant minorities in South Africa, do not eat pork, in accordance with their religious beliefs.
The products tested were collected from supermarkets and butchers, the university said.
“Our findings raise significant concern on the functioning of the meat supply chain in South Africa,” Louwrens Hoffman is quoted as saying.
“Even though we have local regulations that protect consumers from being sold falsely described or inferior foodstuffs, we need these measures to be appropriately enforced.”
None of the meat mislabelled in South Africa is harmful to humans if consumed, correspondents say.