Carrefour ordered to close China store

Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:32am EDT
 
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BEIJING (Reuters) - Authorities in central China have ordered European retail giant Carrefour (CARR.PA: Quote) to temporarily close one of its stores, a local government official said on Monday, days after state media said the chain was passing off regular chicken as free-range meat.

The closure is the latest case of Chinese officials cracking down on foreign brands and comes after food safety authorities said last week they were investigating a Beijing branch of McDonald's Corp (MCD.N: Quote), the world's biggest hamburger chain, after reports of quality problems there.

State media had reported that the Carrefour store in the capital of Henan province, Zhengzhou, had been selling meat with expired freshness dates and mislabeled ordinary chicken as free-range chicken.

"According to the law on protection of consumer rights and interests, our office on March 18 issued an order for Carrefour's Huayuan branch to cease and reorganize operations," an official at the local industry and commerce department told Reuters by phone, reading a statement.

"After reorganization is completed to meet standards, it can resume operations," she said, without giving further details.

Repeated calls to Carrefour's China office on Monday went unanswered.

Carrefour China earlier had posted an apology for the incident on its Chinese-language website (carrefour.com.cn), saying the company was taking immediate measures to resolve the food safety issues.

"Carrefour China attaches great importance to...reports of fresh food product quality management at the Zhengzhou Huayuan store and sincerely apologizes for any impact or losses suffered by consumers," the statement said.

China has struggled to rein in health violations in the unruly and vast food sector despite harsh punishments and repeated vows to deal with the problem.   Continued...