Walmart China Hit With Food Safety Scandal As Employee Goes Undercover to Detail Violations [UPDATED]Posted: 08/8/2014 6:23 pm
Just 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.
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.
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.
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.
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