Two Pizza Hut restaurants in Beijing are being inspected for suspected food safety issues, the market regulation authority said on Wednesday. The stores, in the capital's Haidian and Fengtai districts, are accused of serving expired food, tampering with expiry date labels and repeatedly using old oil to fry food, according to an investigative report from Beijing News.
The Beijing News said its reporters received multiple tip-offs from Pizza Hut employees over its food safety problems since last year. The Beijing News reporters then applied for jobs at the two shops to conduct an undercover investigation from late June to early July. According to the investigation, two Pizza Hut restaurants in Beijing - Hexie Square in Fengtai and Weigongcun in Haidian - had various food safety problems.
While working, the reporters found that tampering with labels on food expiration dates was something that happened daily. As the "secret work" was carried out by the management staff of the restaurant, it was difficult for ordinary employees to intervene in any way. Whether it was steak, crayfish or sausage pizza toppings, rice and noodles for fried rice and pasta, or even tea and lemons for drinks, none of them were discarded at the prescribed time. These ingredients were still served to customers after their expiration date labels were changed.
In addition, despite the fact that Pizza Hut employees in Beijing's restaurants use a simple oil gauge to check the quality of cooking oil and they are required to check the cooking oil every day and replace it if there is any abnormality, the undercover investigation found the oil was used for cooking in the kitchen for nearly a week, until the originally clear oil turned an almost ink-like color.
Even when the detected value of the oil was found to be above the limit, the restaurant manager ignored it and asked the staff members to simply filter the oil and use it again. It wasn't until the oil had been used for a full 10 days that the restaurant management would give the order to replace the oil.
Officers from the market regulation bureau in Fengtai carried out on-site inspection on Wednesday, examining the expiry dates of raw and semi-cooked materials, storage and operating practices. It found a bag of bread that expired on Tuesday in the kitchen. Other food safety issues were also found such as a dirty cleaning and disinfection room with unwashed dishes, and the storing of personal clothes in the food storage room. The market supervision bureau has organized a third-party testing company to conduct spot tests on cooking oil, sausage, crayfish and other ingredients. The bureau filed a case accordingly and shut down the store.
The restaurant's illegal gains were confiscated and it was fined 50,000 yuan in March by the district's market supervision administration for using expired food.
The market regulation bureau in Haidian district also carried out an inspection of a store in the district, checking its operating practices and time log of cold-chain food entering and leaving the storage room, and also entrusted a third party to test the raw materials. The bureau filed a case for further investigation.