Beijing: The US coffee chain Starbucks has withdrawn some of its sandwiches from its stores in China following a scandal affecting one of its meat suppliers, Shanghai Husi Food Co., which was shut down by authorities for selling expired meat.
In a statement posted on its official Weibo account - a Chinese social networking site - Starbucks announced that it had decided to withdraw one of its products, the chicken panini with apple sauce, which contained meat from a supplier who used products of Shanghai Husi.
Starbucks's sandwich was being sold in 13 Chinese provinces and in the major cities of the country.
A report by Dragon TV this week revealed that Husi systematically falsified the expiry date of part of the meat it sold to fast food chains McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut, in a scam which is affecting businesses throughout China given the company's large clientele.
On Monday, Chinese authorities shut down Shanghai-based Husi's factory in order to conduct an in-depth investigation, an official of the Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration told Efe news agency.
Apart from Starbucks, Burger King has also posted the withdrawal of its products containing meat sourced from Husi on its Weibo account, adding that it has begun an inquiry into the matter.
Dicos made similar statements on the popular Chinese social networking site, while Ikea confirmed that it had stopped dealing with Husi in September last year.
Both McDonalds as well as Yum! Brands, which owns KFC and Pizza Hut, issued an apology Monday with Yum! saying that some of its products could be off the shelves for some time due to the suspension of purchases from Husi.
Husi is the Chinese subsidiary of the OSI Group, a food processing company with its main US headquarters in Aurora, Illinois, that has issued a statement apologsing for "the problems caused or if any consumer has been affected".
This is the latest case regarding food insecurity in China, one of the most serious problems affecting the country, where irregularities of this kind are on the rise leading to growing public concern.
This is not the first time that foreign fast food chains have been affected.
In 2012, KFC was involved in another such scandal when it was found buying chicken with excessive levels of antibiotics in Shanghai for two years despite being aware of it, according to local authorities.