Shanghai Is Testing Mutton Sold Without Production Dates

Shanghai is testing mutton sold without production dates and other information on its labeling as the city increases scrutiny of local supplies after Chinese police busted a ring selling rat, fox and mink as the meat.

The seized mutton is undergoing DNA testing to determine if it contains meat from other animals and is also being examined for other substances, according to a statement on the Shanghai government’s website today. A delivery order indicated that some of the “suspicious” mutton was supplied to hotpot restaurants in the city including Little Sheep Group Ltd., owned by Yum! Brands Inc., according to the website.

Yum buys mutton from only two suppliers in China, and the one cited in the report isn’t one of them, Jonathan Blum, a spokesman, said today in an interview.

“We do not buy from this supplier,” Blum said. “We have no relation to the supplier in question.”

China has cracked down on food-safety violations after incidents including tainted baby formula, excessive levels of antibiotics in chicken and chemicals in liquor sparked public outrage. The nation created a new administration in March charged with overseeing food and drug safety in the country.

Shanghai police and food-safety officials raided a market in Minhang district on May 3 following a tip-off and seized meat with “New Zealand Sliced Lamb” labels that didn’t provide details about ingredients, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.

Criminal Operation

That followed a May 2 statement by the Ministry of Public Security that authorities had busted a criminal operation found to have sold rat, fox and mink meat as mutton in Shanghai and neighboring Jiangsu province, generating more than 10 million yuan ($1.62 million).

Police arrested 904 people and seized more than 20,000 metric tons of illegal products in meat-related crimes over three months, Xinhua reported May 2, citing the public security ministry. Those violations included injecting meat with water and selling diseased or chemically treated pork or chicken, according to the public security ministry.