Wal-Mart has started out the year with one almighty 'fox pas'.
The US retail giant has been forced to recall a donkey meat product, a specialty snack sold in its China stores, after tests showed it contained the DNA of fox and other animals.
In official posts on China’s social networking site Weibo, Wal-Mart has said it will reimburse customers who bought the tainted donkey meat (like that will compensate for mouthfuls of fox, which can pose serious health risks) and is helping local food and industry agencies in the eastern Shandong province investigate its Chinese supplier.
The supermarket, which has 359 outlets in China and plans to open another 110 stores in the coming years, says the person in charge at the supplier factory has been detained.
'We are deeply sorry for this whole affair,' said Wal-Mart's China president and CEO, Greg Foran. 'It is a deep lesson that we need to continue to increase investment in supplier management.'
This isn’t the first time that Wal-Mart has run into trouble in the Far East. In 2011, the China government fined the US retailer, along with Carrefour, a combined 9.5m yuan (£950,000) for manipulating product prices. That same year Wal-Mart was also fined in China for selling duck meat past its expiry date.
This latest scandal will further dent Wal-Mart's reputation for quality in China's $1trn food and grocery market.
Murky meat brokerage was one of the big themes of last year, after it emerged that Tesco, Iceland, Aldi and Lidl had sold beef contaminated with horsemeat.
Dubbed one of the biggest food frauds of the 21st century, it resulted in a series of product recalls, internal investigations, apologies in national newspapers, raids, stricter food testing regimes and calls for a new specialist food crime unit.