Walmart shoppers in China foxed by tainted donkey meat

Amid concerns about food safety, Walmart (WMT) is learning that Chinese shoppers don't like foxy donkey meat. 

The world's biggest retailer has recalled donkey meat sold at some of its Chinese stores after DNA tests revealed the product included fox meat, reports Reuters. 

The "Five Spice" donkey meat has sparked an investigation into Walmart's Chinese supplier, while the retailer said it would reimburse customers who had purchased the tainted meat. To American diners who may recoil at the thought of digging into a piece of donkey, it's quite popular in China and said to taste similar to horse

 

 Walmart didn't immediately reply to requests for comment from CBS MoneyWatch. 

"We are deeply sorry for this whole affair," Greg Foran, Walmart's China president and CEO, said, according to Reuters. "It is a deep lesson (for us) that we need to continue to increase investment in supplier management."

The revelation comes at a delicate time for Walmart, which is planning to open 110 new stores in China over the next few years. The company may want to take note of another recent tainted-meat scandal: Ikea's horse-tainted meatballs. 

Ikea found itself on the kicking end of a food scandal when its signature dish, meatballs, were found to include horse meat in Europe. To deal with customer concerns and quality control, Ikea pulled meatballs from its stores and cafeterias for a month. It was no small undertaking, given that Ikea's food sales make up about 5 percent of its $37 billion in annual sales and the furniture store sells about 150 million meatballs a year

In an outcome that should give hope to Walmart, Ikea has reported that meatball sales have rebounded since the scandal.

"We now sell more meatballs than we did before," an Ikea spokeswoman told The Journal

For Walmart, the fox-tainted donkey meat carries some additional issues given Chinese consumers' growing concerns with food safety. 

Concerns range from contaminated soil to tainted food products. Last month, a Chinese official said that eight million acres of Chinese farmland are so polluted that crop-planting shouldn't be allowed there

Diners will probably want to be wary of more than just the country's donkey meat, however. Some Chinese street food vendors were shown to use "gutter oil" in their cooking. Gutter oil is basically exactly what it sounds like: Oil that's recycled from dumpsters, trash bins, gutters and sewers, with oil in such demand that it has created this black market product, the Washington Post reported in October. 

  • Aimee Picchi

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