Wal-Mart’s ‘Five Spice’ Donkey Meat Tainted With Fox Meat

I know it sounds like a headline from news satire site The Onion, but I promise you this one’s completely true. Chinese consumers were shocked to learn that “Five Spice” donkey meat sold by Wal-Mart contained the DNA of animals that were definitely not donkey.

Bloomberg reports that “Wal-Mart withdrew all products from vendor Dezhou Fujude Food Company Ltd., after fox DNA was identified in samples. Yucheng, China authorities put Dezhou Fujude officials in ‘criminal detention,’ and Wal-Mart is considering legal action.” The retailer offered apologies and refunds to those who had purchased the tainted product.

The incident joins the long string of safety violations and false labeling that have plagued the global food system in recent years. It also doesn’t bode well for Wal-Mart, which despite being the world’s largest retailer, has struggled to establish a foothold in China’s rapidly growing economy.

“In 2011, China fined Wal-Mart, along with Carrefour, a combined 9.5 million yuan ($1.57 million) for manipulating product prices. Wal-Mart was also fined that year in China for selling duck meat past its expiry date,” reports Reuters.

“This is another hit on Wal-Mart’s brand, meaning wealthy shoppers will start to lose the trust they had before,” Shaun Rein, Shanghai-based managing director of China Market Research (CMR) Group, told Reuters. The firm estimates that Wal-Mart’s market share fell from 7.5 percent to 5.2 percent over the last three years.

Perhaps most importantly, the incident sheds yet another uncomfortable spotlight on the lack of safety and accountability in the meat industry at large. Whether it’s tainted donkey or salmonella in chicken, the regulatory system is porous at best. Doing business with discount retailers like Wal-Mart encourages suppliers like Dezhou to sacrifice quality for quantity. Sadly, when something tragic or shocking occurs, Wal-Mart is safe, able to point the finger at the supplier, when it’s their own culture of “low prices at any cost” that encouraged the problem in the first place.

And lest you think that this contamination could only happen in regulation-poor China, remember that in 2013 Europe discovered its beef was full of horse, and that last February, an investigation by environmental non-profit Oceana found that about a third of fish sold in the USA is intentionally mislabeled, with cheaper fish replacing more expensive varieties.

Read more: Beware! The 6 Most Mislabeled Foods

Image via johnjoh

137 comments

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Dale O.

Laurence W asks: "What is the difference for those eating meat?"

The difference is in honesty of labelling meat or whatever else the store happens to be selling. It is fraud to sell something that is not what a person is purchasing. For example, this does not apply only to meat. If one does not purchase organic olive oil, one can unknowingly purchase olive oil that is diluted with other oils such as canola oil. The company involved is not being honest because it is labelled and sold as 100 percent olive oil. There are many examples of such fraud in the food industry that does not include meat. Purchasing honey from grocery stores often means that there are other ingredients that is not honey, especially the honey sold in stores such as Walmart which they often import from China.

Very true, Brian M when you said: "Local, sustainable, no hormones, no antibiotics, humanely raised is the only meat that omnivores should choose. But you can't get that at Wally."

Regan Copple
Regan Copple2 years ago

I wonder if they also sell three-penis wine?

Brian M.
Past Member 2 years ago

Local, sustainable, no hormones, no antibiotics, humanely raised is the only meat that omnivores should choose. But you can't get that at Wally.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers2 years ago

Sick.

Laurence Wuillemin
Past Member 2 years ago

what is the difference for those eating meat?

Martha Lee
Martha Lee2 years ago

This is so much worse than the horse meat thing in the UK

Anna Ballinger
Anna Ballinger2 years ago

I rarely eat meat so not a problem for me.

Winn Adams
Winnie Adams2 years ago

Never shop at that company and never will . . . .

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.2 years ago

Down with Wal-mart!