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Confusion persists in Pakistan over McDonald's meat imports
Publication Date : 07-08-2014
Husi Food Co, the meat processor which has been shut down in China for mixing and repacking expired chicken meat and beef with new expiry dates, had been supplying meat until recently to a multinational food chain in Pakistan.
Gam Corporation Private Limited and Siza Foods Private Limited have imported McDonald’s patent chicken products like McNuggets and McCrispy Burger Patty in Pakistan from Husi Foods Company Ltd China, and the Customs record (Pakistan Revenue Automation Limited) shows that their latest imports were over 41 tonnes of chicken products in May and over 71 tonnes in June this year.
The consigners’ names in the official document were Husi Food Co. Ltd, Xiadian Town, Dachang Hui Aut and the names of importers were Gam Corporation and Siza Foods.
Jamil A. Mughal, director marketing and development of McDonald’s Pakistan, insists that the food chain “does not receive any products from the factory in question that is Husi Shanghai. We have never imported these products from Husi Food Shanghai.”
Talking to Dawn on Tuesday, he said, “Our products come only from Husi Beijing factory which has been cleared by FDA and it does not have any issues whatsoever. Further, we also import chicken products from Mac Food Malaysia. We have been changing source of imports at different times.”
However, confusion prevails as Shanghai Husi Food Co, a unit of US-based OSI Group Inc, which is at the centre of a food safety scandal, does exist but a visit to OSI Group’s website does not show a listing for Beijing Husi Food Co.
Mughal said customers expected the highest quality from the company, which was dedicated to providing them with that. “We always follow the highest food safety practices and we demand all our suppliers to do the same.”
He said: “All of our meat products are 100 per cent certified Halal and are sourced only from internationally accredited and trusted suppliers. Our Halal certificates are featured prominently in our restaurants.”
McDonald’s Pakistan, he said, was fully owned and operated by the locals. Business decisions were taken within the country and revenues were also reinvested here.
The first McDonald’s restaurant was opened in Lahore in 1998 and ever since the company has been an active player in the food sector.
“We are operating 31 restaurants in major cities of the country,” he said.
A television footage recorded in China clearly showed workers flouting hygiene standards and using expired products. After which Chinese authorities closed down the processing plant.
The federal and provincial governments in Pakistan do not have any mechanism to test the imported meat for health standards.
Food and health experts regret that the customs authorities lack facility to verify the quality of imported meat products. Moreover, Pakistani customs rely on supplier certification instead of independent certification based on physical inspection or random checking.
They pointed out that no country other than Pakistan allows food products import without first physically verifying the production facilities to ensure quality.