Food authorities in central China's Henan Province yesterday ordered an investigation into a poultry company that reportedly bought sick and dead chicken from farms, then resold the sick ones to fast food restaurants such as KFC and McDonald's and processed the dead ones into animal feed.
McDonald's and KFC are reported to use sick chickens.
The company, Doyoo Group, one of China's largest suppliers to KFC and McDonald's, said the company treated dead chicken according to the nation's regulations. The company was responding to a report by the central government's news portal (china.com.cn). "It is inevitable and normal that chickens die during the feeding process, but they have all gone through non-hazardous treatment by the company," Doyoo said in a statement.
The government website quoted an unnamed official with Doyoo Group as saying that "as long as the chickens are alive, they are not sick."
Chinese law requires that chickens that die in the feeding process should be burned and buried on location and must not be transported to other farms or factories. Sick chickens that cannot be cured as regulated should be killed and disposed of the same way. However, many chicken farms operated by Doyoo don't have facilities for non-hazardous treatment, the report said.
The incident comes days after the world's largest restaurant company, Yum Brands Inc, which owns the KFC fast-food brand, was grilled over the use of antibiotic-laced "instant chickens."
Officials with the fast-food restaurants had not responded as of yesterday to the news report.
According to the website, an official with Doyoo Group and employees with its suppliers said many chickens raised on farms under the group had to be slaughtered ahead of schedule after they got sick, and sick ones were supplied to fast-food restaurants.
Doyoo banned medical treatment after the scandal surfaced that some chicken suppliers abused drugs in poultry to prevent illness, according to the report.
At one of the company's chicken farms, a worker surnamed Yang said they raised about 17,000 chickens but after feeding them for 33 days, over 10,000 died, and the rest were sick and would no longer eat. Yang called Doyoo officials and the sick chickens were immediately sent to a slaughterhouse, the website said.
An official surnamed Li with another farm under the group said they raised about 43,000 chickens but only 30,000 survived. Doyoo officials sent workers to inspect the chickens and found that they were too sick to be fed, so they were slaughtered.