7 January 2014 | Will Green
Walmart has withdrawn donkey meat products from sale in China after they were found to contain fox DNA.
The world’s largest retailer, which has more than 400 outlets across the country, took action after tests by the Shandong Food and Drug Administration revealed the contamination.
Walmart said officials at Dezhou Fujude Food Company, which supplied the meat, had been “placed under criminal detention” by the authorities and it was also considering taking legal action against “the responsible parties”. The retailer added it was “actively supporting” investigations by various authorities into the matter and it was adding DNA tests to its meat testing programme.
Meanwhile, customers who bought donkey meat - a “popular delicacy in China” according to the firm - have been offered compensation.
In a statement Walmart said: “While this appears to be an isolated incident to select stores in China, our customers’ trust is paramount for our business and we are deeply sorry for this incident.
“At Walmart we take the issue of food fraud very seriously. To this end, Walmart China is going beyond what local law requires and is adding DNA tests to its sample tests of meat products to ensure high quality and safety of the products sold in Walmart stores.”
Richard Matthews, head of product liability at law firm Eversheds, drew comparisons with the horse meat scandal in Europe and said the “fox meat scandal” in China “illustrates the importance of supplier due diligence and the vulnerability of multinational businesses of damage to their reputation, even in markets where the regulatory frameworks and consumer expectations may be less well developed”.