Walmart (NYSE:WMT) has recalled a donkey meat product sold in some of its stores in China after tests showed it was contaminated with fox. The company has apologized to customers and said it will also independently DNA test all of its "high risk" meats in China, a procedure which is not required by retailers under Chinese food laws. Walmart is also providing full refunds and "appropriate compensation" for all customers who bought the packaged meat.
The contaminated meat was sold at Walmart stores in Jinan, the capital of the eastern province of Shandong. In a statement released on Weibo, a social media site in China, Walmart said Chinese authorities had already detained employees at the company that supplied the Five Spice brand donkey meat.
The meat mix-up was initially discovered after a customer bought 1,600 packages of the Five Spice donkey meat. The customer then commissioned DNA tests for the meat, which showed the product contained fox, according to Chinese media reports.
Walmart said it was cooperating with authorities to track down exactly how the embarrassing mix-up occurred. The company also said it is considering legal action against the supplier of the tainted donkey meat.
"We have been deeply shocked by this incident," said Walmart China chief executive Greg Foran. "It has provided a deep lesson and shown that we need to continue to increase investment in supplier management."
Fox meat sells for about $1 per kilo in China and is cheaper than donkey, a popular snack in some parts of the country. Overall, donkey accounts for a small percentage of meat sales in China. A 2011 report in the livestock industry yearbook shows that 2.4 million donkeys were slaughtered for consumption that year.
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