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McDonald’s Japan pulls profit forecast after China meat scandal

AFP-JIJI

McDonald’s Co. (Japan) pulled its profit forecast for the year Tuesday while acknowledging that the “appalling” tainted meat scandal at a Chinese supplier will dent its finances.

The head of the fast-food chain’s Japanese unit issued a televised apology after halting sales of products with chicken sourced in China on Friday, while the Japanese government vowed to block any imports from the company at the center of the scandal.

“I would like to extend my sincere apology to our valued customers for any anxiety or concern that this situation may have caused,” McDonald’s Japan President Sarah Casanova told a news conference.

“The news . . . was incredibly disturbing to us, appalling. The activities alleged are completely unacceptable,” she said. “What happened . . . was a wilful deception of a few employees.”

Casanova said the halted sales — and subsequent switch to a chicken supplier in Thailand — will have a “significant impact” on the Japan unit’s finances.

Chicken sourced from China had accounted for about 38 percent of the unit’s poultry imports.

The company retracted its previous annual forecast for a ¥6 billion net profit on sales of ¥250 billion.

More than 3,000 McDonald’s restaurants across Japan have stopped using chicken products imported from China.

Shanghai authorities last week shuttered the plant for mixing out-of-date meat with fresh product, re-labeling expired goods and other quality problems, following an investigative report by a local television station.

The meat was sold to a host of fast-food giants.

China has been rocked by a series of food and product safety problems due to lax enforcement of regulations and cutting corners by producers.

Last week, Chinese police detained five people from the unit of U.S. food supplier OSI Group, as its chief executive slammed the dubious practices as “terribly wrong.”

Food safety scandals in China are never far from the minds of shoppers in Japan, given the countries’ vast trading and business links.

In 2008, 10 people in Japan suffered pesticide poisoning after eating dumplings imported from China, and earlier this year a Chinese factory worker was jailed for life for the crime.