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McDonald's Japan halts sales of Chinese chicken

TOKYO -- McDonald's said Friday that its restaurants in Japan had stopped selling products made with chicken from China, in a marked widening of a scandal that saw expired meat sold to fast food giants.

More than 3,000 restaurants across Japan had also halted imports of chicken products from the country, the chain said, as it switched to distributors in Thailand “to address the concerns of our customers.”

“We made this decision in view of the growing concern over McDonald's chicken products made in China,” the Japanese unit's chief executive Sarah Casanova said in a statement.

The move came as McDonald's in Hong Kong said it would no longer sell chicken nuggets and several other items sourced from a U.S.-owned firm in China at the centre the scandal.

“Out of stock” stickers were placed on menus around the southern Chinese city over products such as McDonald's McSpicy Chicken Filet and Chicken McNuggets.

“Prior to concerns being raised this week about food safety at the Shanghai facility, we had already stopped using products from the Shanghai plant, with the last import being in May,” the fast food chain's Hong Kong unit said.

“There was no product from Husi Shanghai being sold to our customers,” it added, as it suspended all sourcing from the firm's other plants.

In Japan, the change would affect eight dishes, including Chicken McNuggets and Chicken Fillet-O, it said.

Earlier this week, Japan's giant Family Mart convenience store chain and McDonald's restaurants in the country stopped selling chicken nuggets sourced from the scandal-hit plant near Shanghai.

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

One of the worst incidents occurred in 2008 when the industrial chemical melamine was found to have been illegally added to dairy products, killing at least six babies and making 300,000 people ill.

'Terribly wrong'

On Wednesday, Chinese police detained five people from the unit of US food supplier OSI Group, in a case involving expired meat sold to a host of fast food giants including McDonald's and KFC.

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Customers order food at a McDonald's restaurant in Tokyo on Friday, July 25. McDonald's said Friday that its restaurants in Japan had stopped selling products made with chicken from China. (AFP)

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