A report in the Japanese weekly Shukan Bunshu warns of allegedly contaminated chicken imported from China that may be finding its way into the stocks of Japan’s top fast food retailers. Shuuji Okuno, author of the said piece, is worried that fast food chains that offer chicken in their menu might be getting poultry that is potentially hazardous to one’s health.
The report references an article that appeared in the Chinese Communist Party’s newspaper Beijing Youth Daily in January this year that revealed a situation with a food manufacturer in Hanan which has been using chicken meat from birds that died of disease in its food processing business. The article in the Chinese daily also said that the use of such meat from diseased birds has been going on for some time, even selling of the said processed meat to famous fast-food retailers such as McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). The article then goes to show that Chinese chicken exporters might have sold the same kind of chicken meat to Japanese branches of the same fast food chains. Sankei News, a Japanese news outfit, allegedly carried out a supporting investigation and discovered that some of the chicken used by McDonald’s in Japan comes from the same food manufacturer in Hanan, China. At the very least, there is a possibility that some of the diseased chicken meat might have found its way into the Japanese fast food market, especially when you look at the numbers of chicken meat imported from Chinese sources. In 2011 alone, 222,000 tons of chicken meat was imported from China into Japan.
According to the report in the Japanese daily referencing Sankei News’ findings, China’s poultry industry is largely problematic, using large amounts of growth hormones and antibiotics on the birds to speed up growth to increase margins of profit. Some reports also suggest that some poultry houses are devoid of light, cramming as many as 100 birds into a space designed for 40 to cut costs. Such cramped environments are perfect for spreading of diseases. Fifteen years ago, the spread of the E.coli bacteria in China’s poultry houses rocked the industry. As a result, antibiotics were used freely and in large doses, resulting in mutated strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria which spread faster than ever. Currently, there are around 100 different types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria recorded, with the 078 strain being one of the most virulent. Where antibiotics fail, birds die. And to cut costs and keep the profits coming, the meat from diseased birds is still used in food processing.
With this knowledge and reports spreading online and through word of mouth, McDonald’s Japan has responded in writing to fears of contamination problem in writing. The response, however, failed to elaborate on the details of the issue. In December last year, McDonald’s Japan admitted that the supplier from Hanan, China was part of its network. But the fast food chain claimed that they have stopped getting raw chicken from that specific supplier since December 2012.