Chinese court rules against OSI Group units in expired meat case
A court in Shanghai ruled that two units of OSI Group LLC were found guilty of selling out-of-date meat products. They were fined 1.2 million yuan ($182,000 each), and 10 employees were given jail sentences.
Bloomberg News reported that the Jiading district court ruled there was “ample evidence” that Shanghai and Hebei Husi Foods Ltd., as well as the 10 employees, intentionally passed off disqualified products as being acceptable. A statement on its official microblog gave its judgment.
Of the 10 employees sentenced, Yang Liqun, an Australian citizen who was a general manager of OSI in China, was sentenced to three years in jail, fined 100 yuan and will be deported. The other nine were sentenced between 19 and 32 months, and four of them were given reprieves.
The meat scandal came to light when Dragon TV ran an undercover video inside one of the OSI facilities. The video allegedly showed employees repackaging out-of-date meat products for resale. Once the footage was featured, several of the company’s customers canceled their agreements.
OSI Group responded with a statement that criticized the process, adding that the company may seek an appeal of the case as well as pursue legal action against Dragon TV. The statement reads:
“After seventeen months of legal proceedings, detainment of Husi employees for as long as seventeen months, a harmful smear campaign driven by state‐owned media, as well as the denial of entry of press and senior OSI leaders to all court proceedings, the court of jurisdiction has reached an unjust verdict. We have made every effort to follow firm instructions to silently cooperate on the advice it would lead to a fair conclusion. However, we can no longer accept injustices against our people and our reputation.
“Sensationalized media reports from Dragon TV led to a raid on the Shanghai Husi plant in July 2014. Dragon TV made false and incomplete accusations that ignored facts and Chinese law. After an actual investigation was completed, all authorities involved have recognized that this case has never been about food safety. The distortion of facts and evidence by Dragon TV and the general media clearly influenced the verdict released today.
“The verdict is inconsistent with the facts and evidence that were presented in the court proceedings. As such, OSI is forced to consider an appeal through all legal channels in order to eventually be granted a just, evidence‐based verdict as merited by the facts of the case. Additionally, OSI will consider pursuing a suit against Dragon TV for its role in harming the reputation and business operations of the company through intentional falsification of press reports.
“OSI has been doing business in China for more than 25 years and maintains the highest standard of food safety in the industry. We will continue to do so in our current operations, as well as, seek a reexamination of the facts in the Shanghai and Hebei Husi Foods case.”
Source: Bloomberg News, OSI Group LLC