Boss of company in China meat scandal apologizes

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A man eats a burger at a McDonald’s restaurant in Beijing Tuesday, July 22, 2014. China’s food safety agency on Tuesday announced a nationwide inspection of processing factories and meat suppliers used by a company accused of selling expired beef and chicken to McDonald’s and KFC. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

A man eats a burger at a McDonald’s restaurant in Beijing Tuesday, July 22, 2014. China’s food safety agency on Tuesday announced a nationwide inspection of processing factories and meat suppliers used by a company accused of selling expired beef and chicken to McDonald’s and KFC. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Customers enjoy their meal near an advertisement claiming to use 100 percent beef at a McDonald’s restaurant in Beijing Tuesday, July 22, 2014. China’s food safety agency on Tuesday announced a nationwide inspection of processing factories and meat suppliers used by a company accused of selling expired beef and chicken to McDonald’s and KFC. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

A man wipes his mouth near logos for McDonald’s and KFC restaurants in Beijing Tuesday, July 22, 2014. China’s food safety agency on Tuesday announced a nationwide inspection of processing factories and meat suppliers used by a company accused of selling expired beef and chicken to McDonald’s and KFC. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

In this July 20, 2014 photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a worker stands near the machine which is shut down at the workshop of Shanghai Husi Food Co., a meat supplier for McDonald and KFC, in Shanghai, China. A suspect meat scandal in China engulfed Starbucks and Burger King on Tuesday, July 22 and spread to Japan where McDonald’s said the Chinese supplier accused of selling expired beef and chicken had provided 20 percent of the meat for its chicken nuggets. Chinese authorities expanded their investigation of the meat supplier, Shanghai company Husi Food Co. A day after Husi’s food processing plant in Shanghai was sealed by the China Food and Drug Administration, the agency said Tuesday that inspectors also will look at its facilities and meat sources in five provinces in central, eastern and southern China. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Pei Xin) NO SALES

In this July 20, 2014 photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, workers gather while they have nothing to do at the workshop of Shanghai Husi Food Co., a meat supplier for McDonald and KFC, in Shanghai, China. A suspect meat scandal in China engulfed Starbucks and Burger King on Tuesday, July 22 and spread to Japan where McDonald’s said the Chinese supplier accused of selling expired beef and chicken had provided 20 percent of the meat for its chicken nuggets. Chinese authorities expanded their investigation of the meat supplier, Shanghai company Husi Food Co. A day after Husi’s food processing plant in Shanghai was sealed by the China Food and Drug Administration, the agency said Tuesday that inspectors also will look at its facilities and meat sources in five provinces in central, eastern and southern China. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Pei Xin) NO SALES

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BEIJING (AP) — The chairman of an American meat supplier apologized Thursday for a Chinese subsidiary that is accused of selling expired beef and chicken to restaurants including McDonald’s and KFC.

Fast food chains in China suspended use of products from Shanghai Husi Food Co. after a television station reported last weekend it repackaged and sold meat past its use-by date. Authorities launched an investigation and five Husi employees were detained Wednesday after China’s food safety agency said illegal activity was organized by the company.

“What happened at Husi Shanghai is completely unacceptable. I will not try to and defend it or explain it,” said Sheldon Lavin, chairman and chief executive of Aurora, Illinois-based OSI Group, which owns Husi Food.

“I sincerely apologize to all of our customers in China,” Lavin said in a statement. “We will bear the responsibility of these missteps, and will make sure they never happen again.”

Lavin said the company was sending “global experts” to work with staff in China.

Product safety is unusually sensitive in China following scandals over the past decade in which infants, hospital patients and others have been killed or sickened by phony or adulterated milk powder, drugs and other goods.

Dragon TV in Shanghai reported Husi repackaged old beef and chicken and put new expiration dates on them. It said they were sold to McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants.

Employees including Husi Foods’ quality manager were detained Wednesday by Shanghai police.

Government investigators have yet to confirm whether they have found expired meat. Authorities seized 160 tons of raw material and 1,100 tons of finished products from Husi.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the manager of Husi’s quality department, Zhang Hui, told investigators “such meat had been produced under tacit approval of the company’s senior managers.” It said the company “has been conducting the malpractice for years.”

In addition to KFC and Pizza Hut, which are owned by Yum Brands Inc., and McDonald’s Corp., companies that have withdrawn products that used meat from Husi were pizza chain Papa John’s International Inc., Starbucks Corp., Burger King Corp. and Dicos, a Taiwanese-owned sandwich shop chain.

Yum, based in Louisville, Kentucky, said Wednesday it was immediately ending “all procurement from OSI China.” It said that OSI is not a major supplier for its restaurants in China and that it has arranged for alternative suppliers.

Yum also said it reserves the right to “take any and all legal action against OSI Group” based on the results of the investigation.

The scare also spread to Japan, where McDonald’s said 20 percent of the meat for its chicken nuggets was supplied by Husi.

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Associated Press researcher Fu Ting in Shanghai contributed.

Associated Press

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