Starbucks in Shunde District, China
Starbucks in Shunde District, ChinaWikimedia Commons

Foreign food companies Starbucks, Burger King Worldwide and Papa John's International have also been dragged into the food scandal in China, which has already affected Yum Brands's KFC and McDonald's.

Starbucks earlier said some of its stores previously sold products containing chicken originally sourced from Shanghai Husi, which was forced to shut down its operations for selling tainted meat to a number of food firms.

Fast-food chain Burger King and domestic food brand Dicos said they would remove Shanghai Husi food products from their outlets. Meanwhile, Pizza chain Papa John's International said it has severed ties with the former supplier.

McDonald's trouble has expanded to Japan, as it said it had sold the meat products from Shanghai Husi to its branches in Japan to use in its McNuggets.

Earlier, the Shanghai food and drug administration suspended the business of Shanghai Husi Food and ordered the firm to take all its meat products off the shelf. The administration has also closed the processing facility and seized suspected raw food items.

Shanghai Husi Food is the Chinese branch of privately held US-based food supplier OSI Group LLC.

Chinese local media earlier reported that Shanghai Husi Food sold chicken and beef past their expiry date to international food chains including McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut. KFC and Pizza Hut are owned by US-based Yum Brands.

Undercover reporters found Husi Food workers reprocessing and repackaging meat products whose due date had already expired.

Subsequently, KFC and McDonald's said they stopped using products from the supplier, and apologised to Chinese consumers for the issue.

KFC is China's biggest restaurant chain, with more than 4,000 outlets. Its parent Yum plans to open 700 more KFC outlets in China in 2014.

Food safety has been a serious issue in China ever since the 2008 milk scandal when infants fell ill or died after consuming tainted milk powder.