CHINA – For selling “substandard food”, a court in Shanghai has handed down jail terms of between three years and 19 months to an Australian general manager and nine local employees of OSI, the US food processing company at the centre of the 2014 date-expired meat product scandal.
Australian General Manager Yang Liqun received the toughest sentence of three years in jail, a US$15,332 (RMB 100,000) fine and deportation, according to the court. The company’s nine other employees charged under the same court docket were given lesser sentences from 19 months to 32 months.
The court ruling also found that two OSI units, Shanghai Husi Foods Ltd and Hebei Husi Foods Ltd, did intentionally pass off expired products as being fit for human consumption, and the two processing plants were fined US$365,000 (RMB 2.4 million).
The trial follows a 2014 expose by the State-owned Shanghai media outlet Dragon TV, in which it was alleged that the OSI subsidiaries produced substandard and expired food for fast food chains from March 2013 to July 2014. Customers included Yum Brands and McDonald’s.
The Illinois company, in a statement said that it would file an appeal. "The verdict is inconsistent with the facts and evidence that were presented in the court proceedings," it said in a statement. "As such, OSI is forced to consider an appeal through all legal channels in order to eventually be granted a just, evidence-based verdict as merited by the facts of the case."
With the enforcement of China’s new Food Safety Law the country is trying to clean up its reputation for endless food safety scandals, which range from recycled "gutter oil" and "zombie meat" - frozen meat smuggled into the country which was more than 20 years beyond its expiry date - to crops tainted with heavy metals. Senior Chinese leaders have said food safety in the country remain "grim".
For the full story see the next issue of Packaging Business Insight Asia which contains a detailed analysis of China’s Food Safety Law. - Available for free download here
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