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KFC China supplier denies part in chicken feed scandal

By RJ Whitehead, 27-Nov-2012

Related topics: Policy, Food safety, Meat

A supplier of poultry to KFC in China has refuted claims in a Chinese website that it gives its chicken feed laced with large amounts of toxic additives.

Suhai Group released a statement immediately after the claims were published, saying that its chicken meat “does not have problems”. It has also claimed that samples of its products have since been sent to a provincial quarantine agency for further testing.

Last week, the Ce.cn news service alleged that Suhai Group has been adding toxic industrial chemicals to feedstuff to make chickens grow faster—45 days for a chick to grow big enough for slaughter. It claimed that the feedstuff Suhai prepared was so toxic that it could even kill flies.

Claims from within

Workers, cited anonymously, said that the company had been giving chickens additives that were "dangerous to humans", and that the company supplies large supermarkets as well as KFC. They also claimed that McDonald’s was a customer, however the burger major has since denied that it currently does business with Suhai.

Suhai countered that its production lines have passed all its annual state quality checks, and 45 days is a normal growth cycle for a chicken.

Growth depends on the breed of chickens and the artificial food, not growth hormones that are banned in China,” it said in a statement. “Some breeds of chicken with white feathers in the United States can weigh 2kg after 42 days.”

Chickens with white feathers, which are mostly imported from the United States, account for around half of China’s chicken market, while the rest is composed indigenous birds.

Standards passed

KFC Corp. has since issued a statement on the Sina Weibo microblogging website saying that only about 1% of chickens are provided by Suhai Group, and they continually pass quality controls.

China's food industry has suffered a series of scandals in recent years, from melamine-laced dairy products to recycled "gutter oil." The latest reports, though not yet verified, have sparked public fear.

According to Suhai's website, the company raises 120 million chickens annually. It also says it is a supplier to major fast food chains like KFC, airlines and colleges across the country, and exports to Saudi Arabia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and South Africa.