Food on the floor, filthy uniforms: China's biggest meat producer exposed

PHOTO: Handout

A food safety scandal has engulfed China’s largest meat producer after an undercover investigation showed workers using meat that had dropped on the floor, wearing dirty smelly uniforms and forging staff health certificates.

Jiangxi TV Station exposed the unhygienic work practices at meat producer Nanchang Shuanghui Food’s factory in Jiangxi province, eastern China, on Monday (March 14), ahead of World Consumer Rights Day on Tuesday.

The undercover report by a female journalist who started work in the factory at the end of last month revealed workers there were told to wear dirty uniforms. A manager rejected the reporter’s request to change a uniform that had turned yellow, black and smelled bad.

A hygiene scandal has engulfed China’s largest meat producer.
PHOTO: Handout

Most workers had not undergone a compulsory health examination, as required by the authorities for food companies, and their health certificates were forged by Shuanghui, the report said.

Although food safety slogans and hygiene rules are signposted almost everywhere in the plant, the reporter found very few workers followed the rules closely.

In one half-hour period, the reporter observed 11 workers enter the factory and noted that none used alcohol to disinfect their hands in the disinfection area as legally required.

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One worker didn’t even didn’t wash her hands before entering the work area.

In the meat processing area, when a piece of pork chop fell onto the ground, a worker picked it up and packaged it without even attempting to clean it.

After the journalist reported the incident to a supervisor, he said it was fine as long as he personally had not witnessed the incident.

The reporter also saw another worker wash a towel in a bucket of dirty water. The worker then took the towel back to his work station where he used it to wipe his hands and then wiped the sausages on the assembly line with it.

Besides hygiene violations, Shuanghui is also alleged to have breached labour laws by letting staff work 11.5 hours a day, according to the report.

The company said it is investigating the allegations contained in the report, The Beijing News reports.

The Nanchang branch of Shuanghui slaughters 2,000 pigs a day.
PHOTO: Handout

“[The investigation team] has arrived at Nanchang Shuanghui to carry out the investigation. It will take some time for the probe. A complete investigation result has not been concluded yet,” a spokesman told the newspaper.

With nearly 2,000 workers, the Nanchang branch of Shuanghui slaughters 2,000 pigs a day.

Food safety scares are frequently exposed by mainland Chinese media.

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In March last year, popular congee chain Man Ling apologised after one of its restaurants was exposed using leftover food in congee dishes. Its staff were revealed to be handling food without washing their hands.

Another famous restaurant chain named Pang Ge Lia Rou Xie Bao was fined half a million yuan (S$107,400) in August last year for selling dead crabs it claimed were alive, and also selling prepared food that smelled bad.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.