Monday March 26, 2012
Foul practices by hypermarket and fast food joint exposed
Made In China
By CHOW HOW BAN
CHINA Central Television again played its role as a watchdog to great effect when it exposed the poor governance in several foreign business giants in the country.
In a recent TV programme on consumer rights, the state TV station highlighted the bad practices by a Carrefour hypermarket in Zhengzhou in central Henan province and a McDonald’s outlet in Beijing’s famed Sanlitun commercial centre.
Apparently, the staff at the McDonald’s outlet did not follow the operating procedures of storing ingredients for hamburgers.
According to McDonald’s handbook, lettuce, sliced cucumber and cheese on the preparation counter can only be kept for two hours while the french fries for seven minutes and other grilled and fried meat are to be stored in heat insulation box for different durations.
When the time is up, an alarm of a timekeeping system will be triggered and the expired food will be thrown away.
However, investigative journalists discovered that fried chicken wings were kept in the heat insulation box for one hour and 24 minutes longer than the permitted duration.
It was also found that two packets of cheese were opened and kept at the preparation counter for four hours and 20 minutes. The cheese had become dry and discoloured. The normal storage duration should be 30 minutes.
There were also problems in the handling of the Taro Pie and Pineapple Pie.
The pies come with wrappers and an expiry date. But it was a common practice by the staff to alter the date after it expired.
Sometimes the staff would even change the wrappers of the expired pies to new ones.
A staff member said: “The standard practice is to throw (the expired food) away, but you cannot do that. None of the outlet throws them away but they rather open one eye and close the other. What rules? Rules are made by people!”
In one incident, when a packet of beef burger patties fell on the floor in the kitchen, a worker picked them up and put them back into the plastic bag without cleaning them.
Soon after the programme was aired, McDonald’s said in a statement that the food chain in China was taking the matter seriously.
“We would like to apologise to the consumers on this matter. Although the incident is an isolated case, we will not tolerate a practice that is contrary to McDonald’s operating standards. We would carry out an investigation into the outlet immediately,” said McDonald’s China.
Following the incident, the Sanlitun outlet had been closed and visited by health officials from the Beijing government.
In a separate case, staff at the Carrefour store in Zhengzhou were found to have changed expiration dates of chicken products and sold regular chicken as the more expensive free-range poultry.
A journalist bought a box of chicken gizzards, marked the box and placed it back in the freezer. The next day, he returned to the store and found four boxes of chicken gizzards.
His discovered that the chicken gizzards in the marked box had been separated and wrapped in three other boxes. The packaging date was changed to that day.
At a counter selling chicken, the journalist also found that when a staff was replenishing the stock, he took out the chicken from a bag labelled as regular chicken but sold them as free-range chicken.
The regular chicken cost 6.98 yuan (RM3.28) per 500g and free-range chicken was 11.98 yuan (RM5.63).
“The sales of free-range chicken is better,” a worker said.
“Whether it is regular or free-range chicken, it’s all for us to decide.”
Carrefour China had apologised to the public over the incident.
“On behalf of Carrefour, I would like to sincerely apologise to our consumers for the inconvenience and loss caused by us,” said Carrefour China (central/western area) deputy general manager Zhang Zhen.
He added that the workers involved had been suspended and the company would intensify training for its workers to safeguard consumers’ interest.
Zhengzhou city industry and commerce bureau deputy chief Zhao Zhongxiang said their investigations revealed that the store in Huayuan Road had no inventory and supply record of free-range poultry.
However, in the past two years, the store sold more than 5,000kg of free-range chicken, making about 40,000 yuan (RM18,800).
“We have confiscated the money and fined the store five times the value,” the Dahe.cn portal quoted him as saying after meeting operators from 10 supermarkets in the city recently.