HONG KONG/SHANGHAI McDonald's Corp (MCD.N), which has over 2,000 restaurants in China, will restore its full menu in some Chinese cities this week, a fortnight after a food safety scandal forced the company to halt the sale of staples such as Big Macs and Spicy McWings.
The world's biggest restaurant chain will resume full menus in Beijing and Guangzhou this week, while menus in Shanghai will return to normal this month, a company spokeswoman in China told Reuters on Monday.
She said some other cities had also resumed full menus, but declined to give more details.
McDonald's last month cut ties with Shanghai Husi Food, a unit of U.S.-based OSI Group LLC, after a television report triggered investigations into improper meat-handling procedures at Shanghai Husi's factory. McDonald's decision led to meat shortages at many of its restaurants in China.
The scandal highlights the challenges facing inspectors in China's fast-growing and sprawling food industry. China is Yum Brands Inc's (YUM.N) biggest market and McDonald's third-largest by outlets. The resumption process is taking longer than expected, the McDonald's spokeswoman said.
"We will go back to the origin of the food, where the food comes from, so it will take a longer time and is not as easy as people may think. We are doing a very stringent inspection to make sure the food meets the government's requirement and McDonald's standards," she said.
In Hong Kong, McDonald's said it was now directly importing lettuce and fresh onions from the United States and Taiwan, and items on its menu such as Big Mac, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, McChicken and Grilled Chicken Burger were restored on its menu on Monday.
Shanghai Husi was accused earlier this month by a television documentary of mixing expired meat with fresh produce and forging production dates. Shanghai regulators said the company had forged the dates on smoked beef patties and then sold them after they expired.
Chinese police have taken six executives of Shanghai Husi into custody, state media reported on Sunday.
The food safety scare is testing local consumers' loyalty to foreign fast-food chains. Yum, owner of the KFC and Pizza Hut chains, said last month that the scandal had caused "significant negative" damage to sales at its restaurants.
(Reporting by Donny Kwok in HONG KONG and Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI; Editing by Ryan Woo)