Wal-Mart Denies China Media Report of Selling Expired Products

By Dow Jones Business News, 

SHANGHAI--Wal-Mart Stores Inc. ( WMT ) said Friday that products sold in its China stores are safe, denying local media allegations that the retailer sold expired meat and old products in stores in the country.

Local media reported Thursday that a Wal-Mart store in the southern city of Shenzhen was selling expired meat as well as food items prepared with out-of-date oil and rice that previously had been returned by customers.

The Bentonville, Ark., retailer investigated the issue Thursday and confirmed there have been no violations, the company said. "We are comfortable saying, based upon this inspection, that none of the alleged activities exists in the store today," it said. It also said that the State Administration for Industry and Commerce visited Thursday and found no problems, and that Wal-Mart was cooperating with authorities.

The statement said Wal-Mart would take action if it finds any violations.

Expired meat has been a concern for consumers of food originating from China in recent weeks, after authorities earlier this month accused Shanghai Husi Food Co., which is owned by U.S.-based OSI Group Inc., of intentionally selling meat beyond its shelf life to restaurant companies, such as McDonald's Corp. ( MCD ) and Yum Brands Inc. ( YUM ). Both companies cut ties with the Shanghai supplier.

Shanghai Husi has apologized, while OSI executives have said they are cooperating with authorities and promised to revamp the company's China operations.

China is a key market for Wal-Mart. Still, the company has frequently come under fire in the country for food-safety issues. To address the issue, Wal-Mart has said will triple its spending on food safety in China to 300 million yuan ($ 48.2 million) by the end of 2015.

Write to Laurie Burkitt at laurie.burkitt@wsj.com

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This article appears in: Commodities

Referenced Stocks: MCD , WMT , YUM

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