Walmart has recalled a donkey meat product in China

Walmart has recalled a donkey meat product in China after it was found to contain fox meat DNA.

The US retail giant has promised to reimburse customers who bought its ‘five spice’ donkey product, a popular delicacy in China. In a statement issued on Friday 3 January, Walmart said it was co-operating with the authorities and was considering legal action against the supplier.

”We understand that officials at Dezhou Fujude Food Company have been placed under criminal detention by local authorities, and Walmart is also considering taking legal action against the responsible parties,” it said. “While this appears to be an isolated incident to select stores in China, our customers’ trust is paramount for our business and we are deeply sorry for this incident.”

According to reports, the problem came to light when a suspicious customer sent the product to a laboratory for tests.

“We are deeply sorry for this whole affair,” said Walmart’s China president and CEO Greg Foran. “It is a deep lesson that we need to continue to increase investment in supplier management.”

Walmart has 390 Chinese stores in more than 150 cities in 21 provinces.

In response to the fox meat discovery, Walmart China said it was going beyond what local law required and was adding DNA tests to its sample tests of meat products. “We want our customers to have complete trust in the products they buy from our stores,” it said.

“Over the past year, Walmart has strengthened our random, species-specific testing programme of animal protein-containing products to ensure they meet label authenticity claims,” the company added. ”We have literally tested thousands of samples of foods worldwide using independent, third-party laboratories to ensure they contain only the ingredients declared on the package.

Walmart also said it was sponsoring translation of Michigan State University’s online food fraud training course into Mandarin for use in China. “Education of food fraud is another key to prevention,” it said.

News of the contaminated donkey meat comes almost a year after the horsemeat scandal erupted in Europe. On 16 January 2013 it emerged that beef products at a number of major retailers had tested positive for horsemeat.

This story was updated at 09.09 GMT on 3 January 2014 with comment from Walmart.