Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. sold a pack of coffee that had passed its expiry date at a store in China’s southwestern municipality of Chongqing, the state-owned People’s Daily reported today, citing a customer surnamed Zhang.
Wal-Mart is investigating the case, Christina Lee, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for the company, said by telephone. The production date on the item was different from those Wal- Mart buys from its supplier, she said.
China started nationwide food safety checks as the government seeks to ease concerns about the quality of milk, pork and cooking oil, People’s Daily reported yesterday. The Wal-Mart incident came two days after it resumed operations at all 13 stores in Chongqing after officials ordered them shut for two weeks for mislabeling ordinary pork as organic.
Zhang demands that Wal-Mart publicly apologize and compensate him, according to the Beijing-based newspaper, a mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party.
An official at the store denied that the coffee Zhang produced was bought recently, People’s Daily reported. The production date of the item was Sept. 10, 2008, long before the store opened on Aug. 25, 2009, the newspaper said, citing Du Chengpei, a deputy manager at the Nanbin Road outlet. It was against logic that the store would buy dated supplies, Du was cited as saying.
The Chinese government has pledged to improve food safety after tainted milk powder killed at least six babies in 2008 and cases of additives in pork, chemicals in steamed buns and excessive bacteria in duck spurred public outrage.
In April, Premier Wen Jiabao said the country’s “pernicious” food safety incidents at the time reflected a “severe” lack of integrity and morals. The country opened a government-funded center to offer technological support for monitoring food security risks and safety standards on Oct. 14.
--Chua Baizhen, Michael Wei, Jing Jin. Editor: Joshua Fellman
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