6 chinese executives face arrest in meat scandal

6 chinese executives face arrest in meat scandal
Security guards stand inside the Husi Food factory in Shanghai.

Six senior executives at Shanghai Husi Food Co face arrest over their alleged involvement in the expired meat scandal that affected leading fast food chains last month.

Shanghai No 2 People's Procuratorate approved the arrests on Friday.

The six include factory director Hu Jun, who is accused of manufacturing or selling counterfeit or inferior products, according to a statement on the prosecutors' website.

Shanghai-based Dragon TV claimed in July that Shanghai Husi had supplied products tainted with reprocessed expired meat to a string of fast food chains and restaurants across China, including McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut.

The Shanghai Public Security Bureau and the city's Food and Drug Administration said after an investigation that the company produced 5,108 crates of meat products, including pork patties and beefsteaks, using out-of-date or mouldy meat.

About 100 metric tons of Husi products were seized and sealed up. Police later detained five people allegedly involved in the scandal.

Gu Xiaorong, vice-president of the Shanghai Law Society, said people can be convicted of manufacturing or selling counterfeit or inferior products even if there are no serious consequences, under Chinese law.

"It is different from poisoning," he added. "The effects of eating inferior foodstuffs may not show up immediately. The law works in this way as it's hard to clearly know the consequences."

Gu said the six executives may have had no criminal intent, but as the people directly in charge of the company they can still be convicted.

"The position of the company is serious as it had been conducting this criminal act for a long time," he said. "As the criminal act benefited the company, the crime can be considered as a crime committed by the unit. In such a circumstance, the executives will still be held responsible."

Under the Criminal Law, those who manufacture or sell inferior food products that can cause serious poisoning or spread food-borne diseases may be jailed for up to three years.

The sentence can rise to between three and seven years if the food causes serious harm to customers. Offenders can be given seven years to life if the consequences are particularly serious.

Those convicted of the offence must also pay a fine.

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