2019-01-09 12:28:33

Nearly two dozen FamilyMart convenience store locations in mainland China and Taiwan have been accused of selling expired food in a video released by an independent quality-testing organization on Tuesday.

The third-party review organization, Lanmei Test, posted the nearly three-minute footage to its official account on microblogging platform Weibo, claiming stores belonging to the popular Japanese chain FamilyMart stocked and sold food items past their expiration dates. Lanmei said it investigated 21 store locations in nine mainland cities — including Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen — as well as a city in Taiwan over the course of a month and found expired food for sale in each. The organization said it started probing the chain’s Chinese locations after a Lanmei Test staff member was sold an expired sandwich in November.

In response to the video, FamilyMart’s China office said in a statement Tuesday that its stores “are not allowed” to sell expired food items and that it has launched an internal investigation. The statement also said that the company is working to verify the authenticity of the video and claims that store security footage “shows abnormal purchasing behavior” from Lanmei Test staff. Sixth Tone’s attempts to contact FamilyMart were unsuccessful.

A market regulation official from Shanghai’s Yangpu District told Sixth Tone on Wednesday that none of the 92 FamilyMart stores examined in the area since Tuesday were found to be selling expired food. On Tuesday, the city’s market regulation department ordered its district offices to investigate the issue after the Lanmei video identified two FamilyMart stores in Shanghai, including one in Yangpu. Authorities in other cities have yet to officially comment on the issues raised by the video.

The video has garnered widespread attention online since its release. By Wednesday afternoon, a hashtag translating to “FamilyMart Sells Expired Food” had been viewed over 140 million times on Weibo. While some netizens have voiced concerns about food safety issues, others have questioned the authenticity of the footage. “Firstly, this video has been edited — please release the original video,” read one upvoted comment. “Secondly, I worked at a FamilyMart, and the scanner doesn’t recognize expired goods.”

Responding to the accusations, Lanmei said in a statement Wednesday that the video is “authentic” and that it would consider releasing the raw footage as evidence in the future.

This is not the first time that Lanmei Test has exposed health issues at commercial establishments. In September 2017, the organization released a video questioning the hygiene of cleaning practices at several of Beijing’s top hotels. It claimed that five of the capital’s five-star chains, including the W, the JW Marriot, and the Hilton, didn’t change bed linens or clean bathrooms properly after rooms were vacated.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: People walk past a FamilyMart convenience store at the Jing’an Temple subway station in Shanghai, Jan. 8, 2019. IC)