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Whistleblower Suspended As Investigation Finds Wal-Mart Meets Food Safety Standards

Posted: 08/12/2014 5:42 pm
walmart whistleblower food scandal

The anonymous whistleblower poses with a letter announcing his suspension from his job.

The initial findings of a government investigation into a Shenzhen-area Walmart have not shown that staff were engaged in unsafe food practices, despite an employee going undercover to show brazen violations of food safety standards. That employee has since been suspended.

The Shenzhen Market Supervision Management Department – Luohu Division has announced that a preliminary investigation has not found any illegal activity at the Shenzhen Walmart store, reports Yangcheng Evening Report. The anonymous informant had made the allegations in a television report in which he said the store’s upper management were aware of all incidents because they were the result of cost-saving measures undertaken by the store.

Among the allegations of improper food preparation include the prolonged use of frying oil that was not changed for a month at a time, the use of expired meats in customer meals, and instances where rice overgrown with worms was re-sold in the prepared foods department.

While the investigation is still ongoing, we have some clues as to how the investigation is being conducted.

walmart food safety scandal

The Shenzhen Market Supervision Management Department has inspected the operations area, storeroom, and freezer room at the Honghu Walmart store. Inspectors have taken a total of six samples: frying oil, rice, and two each of cooked beef and raw materials.

The inspection said samples of cooking oil taken at the Walmart in question “met standards” despite the same report admitting that national Chinese standards do not provide any clear regulations on the use of cooking oil.

The inspectors have still not yet found any evidence of worms appearing in rice, which apparently happened in March 2013, according to the whistleblower’s video. A source said that may be too long ago to matter to the investigation:

If he was able to record a recent video and then report it on the same day, then there would have been a better result.

The preliminary investigation has also not found that Walmart exceeded the time limits associated with the preservation of meat ingredients.

Walmart previously denied the allegations made against it, and insisted it upholds the highest safety standards while remaining more than willing to assist any and all official investigations.

walmart food safety scandal

Meanwhile the employee who blew the whistle is collecting wages during his suspension. A notice the employee received on August 10 reads:

Although the business department has verified in a preliminary investigation that your complaint is not factual, there may still be a follow-up investigation. As the complainant, there is an obligation for the business department to do a follow-up investigation. At the same time, the company will publicize the results of this internal investigation and will require your cooperation. In order to advance to the next stage of investigations, the company has decided to stop employing you.

The informant said he blew the whistle after being reassigned to the meat department on July 29, a move that made the employee extremely dissatisfied. Furthermore, the informant said that he had previous altercations with his store superior, one of which was reported to the police.

walmart food safety scandal

However, he said these factors didn’t cause him to come forward:

I don’t want to hide my conscience anymore. If I wanted to make money, I could have gone to the industry department and made a report to earn a reward. I just want to let the customers know just what they are eating at Walmart.

The employee had three videos that were recently used as part of the television news report: a January 2014 video depicting old oil that wasn’t changed, a February 2014 video depicting the use of expired meats in which the employee himself altered a best before date, and a March 2013 video of rice that was allegedly infested with worms and sold.

The informant said turning to the media has left him isolated:

No employees are willing to take a stand on this and admit what they have seen and done. Instead, they say that they don’t know anything. It’s like as though I’m the one person that is deliberately provoking Walmart.

No word on when the full report will be published.

Photo: Southcn


Police Doing Spot Drug Tests at Beijing Bars

Posted: 08/11/2014 11:21 am

dos kolegas beijing barWarranted or not, Beijing bars have a notorious reputation for heavy alcohol and drug use. Just last month, photographs were taken of several expats seen mistreating a man who had fallen unconscious, while a Sanlitun drug bust in May resulted in the arrest of 30 suspects that included 10 foreigners. But are Beijing bars really that bad?

It seems Beijing police think so, and are willing to take extraordinary steps to crackdown on illicit drug use. A tweet sent by Twitter user Stephen McDonell suggests that Beijing police are going into local bars and conducting on-the-spot drug tests on anyone in the premises, both locals and expats:

McDonell describes the urine drug test:

In another tweet, McDonell said he was at Dos Kolegas, a popular local bar known for its live music performances, located north of Chaoyang Park and east of the Sanlitun bar street.

The FDA says a urine drug of abuse home test may be able to determine the presence of any of these drugs: marijuana, cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine, amphetamines, PCP, benzodiazepine, barbiturates, methadone, tricyclic antidepressants, ecstasy, and oxycodone.

Photo: Dos Kolegas


Beijing Says H&M, Vero Moda, Zara and MUJI All Sell Poor Quality Products

Posted: 08/9/2014 12:12 pm

vero modaMore top brand names have been cited for violating government standards in China, and perhaps by coincidence, the majority of inferior products involve denim.

On August 5, the website for the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce announced four major brands are selling inferior products that do not conform to government regulations in seven separate cases. The four brands named are MUJI, H&M, VERO MODA, and ZARA.

This announcement follows an earlier report by the same government agency that announced there are 64 brands that are on a “black list” for violating government quality standards, but did not mention all of them specifically.

MUJI is cited for having three violations, while ZARA is cited for two. H&M and VERO MODA are cited for one violation each. They are:

bj blacklist

  • A Shanghai MUJI store that sold a US cotton blend denim women’s skirt that has problems with durability, friction, and an ability to retain color.
  • A Shanghai MUJI store that sold a US cotton blend denim jacket shirt that has problems with durability, friction, and an ability to retain color.
  • A Shanghai MUJI store that sold a US cotton blend denim women’s fitted skirt that has problems with durability, friction, and ability to retain color.
  • An Shanghai H&M store that sold women’s casual shoes that has problems with its ph level, durability, friction, an ability to retain color.
  • A Beijing ZARA store that sold jeans that had problems with durability, friction, and an ability to retain color.
  • Another Beijing ZARA store that sold jeans that had problems with durability with washing, and an ability to retain color.
  • A Tianjin VERO MODA  store that sold jeans that had problems with friction, and durability ZARA, Beijing.

The Nanfang will continue to keep you informed in case other brand names are added to the black list.

Photos: hd315, eksms


Walmart China Hit With Food Safety Scandal As Employee Goes Undercover to Detail Violations [UPDATED]

Posted: 08/8/2014 6:23 pm

walmartJust as Shenzhen looks to welcome several new stores in the near future, Walmart is now dealing with its own food safety scandal. A senior employee, who has been with the company for eight years, has detailed many of the company’s unsafe food preparation techniques.

On August 7, the Guangdong news program “One Time” broadcast an episode in which a long-time employee of the Walmart in Gonghu, Shenzhen claimed the store engages in a number of unsafe food preparation practices. To prove it, he agreed to wear a camera and go undercover while on the job.

This employee works in the prepared food section where foods are cooked for Walmart customers to purchase. He’s worked in the section for his entire eight years with the company.

walmart food safety scandal

Since last year, Walmart has implemented a strict cost control policy in order to maximize profits.

The employee alleges that the oil used to deep fry foods for customers is of inferior quality because it is regularly reused. As seen in the video, the oil used to cook a hundred pieces of chicken has already turned dark, but because half a bucket of new oil is added to the used oil, they are able to escape detection.

The unidentified employee said:

According to my vast experience, the oil is not changed for half a month to a whole month at least. Sometimes, it’s not even changed at all. When workers copy the kitchen records, they would write, ‘(Oil) already changed.’

The whistleblower also revealed that raw ingredients for cooked foods are often a week old. Despite being a supermarket, fresh ingredients come in once a week and are kept refrigerated at 0 to 5 degrees Celsius to well past the food’s date of expiry.

walmart food safety scandal

According to the employee, another incident involved a customer who returned a bag of rice because it had grown mold and attracted worms. However, instead of throwing it away, the rice was given to the cooked foods department which prepared and sold it to customers for lunch.

The expose has attracted the attention of the Luohu Sungang Trade Office, which is now investigating. A spokesperson for Luohu Food Inspection admitted there is no expressly mandated time for when to change cooking oil, but that tests can determine its quality.

Meanwhile, Walmart President and CEO Sean Clarke just announced in a meeting with Shenzhen mayor Xu Qin that as many as nine new Walmart stores may be coming to Shenzhen in the next five years.

Shenzhen mayor Xu was quoted as saying he hopes Walmart will take the lead in ensuring food safety and in providing high quality food to city residents. Clarke was quoted as saying Walmart has strict internal tests when it comes to food quality and adheres to a rigid standard in purchasing its products.

walmart food safety scandal

UPDATE 2:59pm August 9: Walmart has completely denied the allegations of improper food preparation, reports Foshan Daily.

The results of the inspection carried out by Luohu Food Inspection have not yet been revealed to the public.


Photos: Xinhua, Want China Times


Beijing Puts MUJI, Jack Jones, and 62 Others on Brands Blacklist

Posted: 08/7/2014 9:06 am

jack jonesYour trip to the mall has just become more complicated as a Beijing quality watchdog has declared 64 brand names unacceptable because of quality concerns.

In its inspections of clothing and shoe products from around the city, the Beijing Industry and Commerce Department said there are ten clothing brands and 54 shoe brands that do not comply with government standards, reports Sina. There are apparently problems with the fibers in products from Sussi, Peacebird Home, Bosiman, and Prince’s Password. The agency said it has concerns with the dye in products from Muji, Jack Jones, and K. Flower.

Apparently 54 shoe brands, including Foxer, also had problems, namely not complying with standardized sizing.

Other brands were not mentioned in the report.

Photo: 51fashion


Hotels And Universities In List Of Guangzhou’s Unsafe Public Pools

Posted: 08/5/2014 2:36 pm

swimming poolSome folks like to ease their way into a pool bit by bit, but you may not even want to dip your toe in when you hear this news: over 30% of Guangzhou’s public pools do not meet public safety criteria.

The Guangzhou Department of Health posted its results after testing city pools in May and June. Of the 366 pools tested, 254 passed regulations and have good water quality. However, 112 pools, or 30.6% of the total, do not comply with city regulations, reports Guangzhou Live. The report, unfortunately, does not name all of the unsafe pools, but it does mention a couple of them.

There are seven Guangzhou universities that have public pools with unsafe water quality: Huanan Normal University, Guangzhou University, Huanan Engineering University, Guangzhou Art College, Guangdong Engineering College, Guangzhou Chinese Medical University, and Sun Yat-Sen University. Furthermore, all of these pools save for the first two (Huanan Normal University and Guangzhou University) have been on the city’s blacklist for years.

Guangzhou hotels with unsafe pools include Guangzhou Haili Garden Hotel, Guangzhou Ramada Pearl Hotel, Guangdong Xingang Pearl Hotel, Guangzhou Chateau Star River Hotel, and Guangdong Victor Hotel.

As well, Guangzhou public school pools with dangerous water include Haizhu District Nanwu Experimental School, No. 6 Middle Dchool, Huangpu District No. 86 Middle School, and Nansha No. 1 Middle School.

The top three contaminants are urine, bacteria, and chlorine particles.

Photo: Guangzhou Live


Add This Item to Your Unsafe China Food Lists: Bean Sprouts

Posted: 08/4/2014 8:58 am

poison bean sprouts dongguanThere’s more food that you should avoid as people try to earn a little more money by serving up poisoned food. Zhuhai police announced they have broken up a production ring that made and sold poisonous bean sprouts unsafe for human consumption, reports China News. Police made the bust on July 17, arresting 17 people at 11 locations.

The bean sprouts are said to have been produced using a rootless agent and AB powder. These compounds are not allowed to be used in food products, and are said to cause early maturation in children and change physiology in girls. As well, they are said to be cancerous.

This is the second police raid that has seized unsafe bean sprouts this past month. Thirty tons of bean sprouts were seized in a police raid in Shunde on July 9.

In other food safety news that is more positive, tofu and soy retail products must be packaged in Shenzhen when sold, reports the Shenzhen Evening Report.

Photo: China News


Melamine-Laced Yogurt Candy Seized in Guangdong

Posted: 08/1/2014 9:45 am

yogurt pills food safety melamine

The Public Security Bureau of Guangdong announced at a July 30 news conference that they have seized over 25 tons of yogurt tablet candy containing melamine, reports QQ. The seizure was made at the Chaozhou Extensive Food Product Company, which is suspected of manufacturing and selling unsafe food items.

Police confiscated 12 tons of completed yogurt tablet candy, and 13.5 tons of candy that wasn’t yet ready for sale. All are suspected of containing melamine. The seizure may affect markets in 12 provinces throughout China.

The news conference held by the PSB was to highlight the authorities’ progress with a crackdown on fake food and drug products in China. It was the first time the crackdown on melamine-laced yogurt candy came to light, even though the seizure happened on February 11 of this year.

Recalls involving melamine are not rare. In the first half of 2014, the USA has made 339 unsafe claims against Chinese food exports in which over 13% are related to melamine or melamine-tainted foods.

Melamine first rose to prominence as a major Chinese food safety concern in 2008 when six infants died as a result of consuming melamine-tainted milk products. Melamine also came into the public spotlight in 2011 when 26 tons of milk powder contaminated with melamine was seized.

As part of the announcement, the Guangdong PSB stated that up until June 30, Guangdong police have cracked a total of 1,222 fake food cases, detained 1,823 suspects, and arrested 938 people.

Other raids resulting in confiscated unsafe foods include a bust on a fake alcohol production site in Dongguan. Two people have been arrested for producing five fake foreign brands that include Hennessy Paradis and Martell Cordon, with a total of 1,079 bottles confiscated.

Photos: QQiFeng


Pair Wiped Mold Off Used Chopsticks, Re-Sold Them to Restaurants

Posted: 07/29/2014 2:28 pm

wuhan used chopsticksAs first reported by Chutian Capital Report on July 27, a black market operation has been discovered in Wuhan that re-purposed previously used disposable chopsticks and sold them to local restaurants to be used again.

A husband and wife pair named Wang and Cui are said to have amassed 540,000 pairs of used disposable chopsticks and could be seen sorting them during the day by the side of the road near their home.

wuhan used chopsticks

A reporter confirmed a citizen’s allegation that the pair were engaging in illegal practices. The reporter purchased bags of re-purposed disposable chopsticks at 1 yuan each, a price that undercuts the normal price of disposable chopsticks at 2 yuan each.

Each bag was labelled “Environmentally-Friendly Bamboo Chopsticks”.

When authorities inspected Wang and Cui’s operation, they found the couple had no operating license, no health certificate, and were not in compliance with local regulations.

wuhan used chopsticks

At the time of inspection, officials found the couple were in the process of cleaning chopsticks. In the bathroom, a basin was full of chopsticks that had grown dark with mold. Wang admitted that once the chopsticks were clean of the mold, they would be sold to local restaurants.

However, the list of restaurants that purchased the reused chopsticks has not be revealed. wuhan used chopsticks

Photos: ctdsb


Latest Food Safety Scandal: Chinese Potato Chips Can Give You Dementia

Posted: 07/4/2014 7:09 pm

xiangchi potato chipsListen up: if you eat a specific brand of Chinese potato chips, it could lead to poor memory, reduced vision, poor movement coordination, and dementia, reports the Yangcheng Evening Report.

To cut costs, certain unscrupulous companies have resorted to using a type of leavening agent with dangerous amounts of aluminum to manufacture potato chips. The agent is three to four times cheaper than a regular (and safe) baking powder.

A notice on the official website for the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People’s Republic of China announced the problem and suggested the public to purchase popular name brands instead of inferior brands.

However, this official institution does not say anything else. Even though it confirmed some potato chips are dangerous, it didn’t say which ones.  Caixin is one of the few media outlets that reported the Xiangchi brand as being contaminated with excess amounts of aluminum.

In the meantime, best to stick with Lays.
xiangchi potato chipsxiangchi potato chips

Photo: Nanguogo, 5888, dougou

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