Reuters Shanghai

China’s food regulator has visited close to 600 restaurants, businesses and food distributors as it investigates a fast-spreading food safety scare that has dragged in a number of global brands and hit food outlets as far away as Japan.

Hong Kong had suspended all imports from the US-owned Chinese supplier at the centre of the scare, it said yesterday.

Shanghai police detained five people on Wednesday, including the head and the quality chief of Shanghai Husi Food, a supplier to fast food brands including McDonald’s, KFC and Starbucks, over allegations it had supplied meat that was past its expiry date. Shanghai Husi Food is owned by Illinois-based OSI Group.

Yum Brands, the owner of KFC and Pizza Hut, severed ties with OSI, and McDonald’s said it would move supply from the Shanghai facility to OSI’s new plant in Henan.

The Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration said it had sent 875 personnel to carry out inspections at 581 food-related facilities suspected of using expired meat from Shanghai Husi Food.

Chinese police, local government and prosecutors are now involved in the case.

In Japan McDonald’s and grocery chain FamilyMart said they had disposed of products supplied by Shanghai Husi.

The scandal broke after a television report on Sunday showed staff at Shanghai Husi Food repackaging expired meat and picking up food from the floor to add back to the mix.

Some former staff at the facility said oversight was lax. OSI said local authorities had inspected all its other facilities in China and found no issues.