China media train fire on U.S. food giants over chicken scare
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Just weeks after Chinese authorities cleared Yum Brands Inc and McDonald's Corp of charges they had served chicken laced with excessive chemicals, local media are again attacking the iconic American firms, while barely reporting on the chances of Chinese restaurants selling similar meat.
The official Shanghai Daily, citing a report from the central government's news portal china.com.cn, said on Thursday one of China's largest suppliers to McDonald's and Yum's KFC and had bought sick chicken from farms and sold them to the food outlets - a claim a local government in the central province of Henan said was untrue after a preliminary investigation.
Chinese newspapers and websites have also criticised some domestic firms, but industry experts say multinationals are hotter targets given the high profile of their brands.
"KFC and McDonald's get media attention because they're the biggest fast-food chains in China. Everyone knows them and everyone talks about them," said Tan Xiaoxue, a reporter at Sohu.com Inc's news portal.
"There are some local chains such as Country Style Cooking , but they cannot be compared with international brands, which have much bigger brand recognition and consumer impact."
In the latest chicken scare case, china.com.cn quoted an unidentified official at Doyoo Group - which sells chicken to KFC and McDonald's - plus employees at Doyoo's suppliers as saying chicken that fell ill were slaughtered and shipped to fast food restaurants including the two American giants.
However, the government of Doyoo's home city Hebi said on Wednesday that it had found no evidence of this in a preliminary probe, and authorities were looking into the case more closely.
In response to the china.com.cn report, Yum's China unit said it will closely monitor the situation.
"If Doyoo is found to have committed any wrongdoings, it will be subject to severe punishment," it said via its official microblog account.
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