McDonald’s Goes (Temporarily) Burger-less in Wake of Expired Meat Scandal

Without any beef or chicken, there’s little more than french fries available at some McDonald’s in China.

A 'Temporary Unavailable' sticker is placed on a picture of Chicken McNuggets on the menu of a McDonald’s restaurant in Hong Kong on July 25. (Photo: Bobby Yip/Reuters) 

Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.

What’s a fast-food restaurant without beef or chicken? French fries and soda, of course—and that’s just about all that McDonald’s locations in China are able to serve, as the chain reels in the wake of a widespread recall of its meat products.

Last week, video footage of a U.S.-owned meat processing plant in Shanghai showed workers reprocessing expired beef and chicken, picking meat up off the floor, and throwing it right back on the line. The facility, Husi Food Co. Ltd., sells products to McDonald’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut.

News that the chain’s main meat supplier had been selling it “stale” meat, extending the shelf life of products a full year past its expiration date, has left McDonald’s without the frozen ingredients needed to make the majority of its menu. That has created a sort of alternate-universe McDonald’s in major Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai—there isn’t a quarter pounder in sight.

A photo posted to Twitter by People’s Daily shows a location in Beijing where only beverages and fries are available. “Thanks for your support,” reads the sign posted outside. “We are so sorry that we only have these choices for you.” The Wall Street Journal reports that other locations are pushing fish sandwiches—the only kind of animal protein they have in stock, as the recall has killed their supply of beef and chicken. At one McDonald’s in Shanghai, according to the paper, they’re already running low on fish.

Xinhua, the government press agency, states that a full menu “is not expected in restaurants until early August, while some outlets may need more time,” per a comment from a McDonald’s spokesperson.

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