retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that “authorities in China's southwestern city of Chongqing ordered Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to temporarily close some stores after accusing it of fraudulently labeling ordinary pork as more-expensive organic pork, in the latest hitch to the company's China ambitions.”

According to the story, “Chongqing officials ordered Wal-Mart to close 10 if its namesake stores and two Wal-Mart-owned Trust Mart stores on Sunday,” and must keep them closed for 15 days.

Walmart has apologized for any discrepancies between labeling and product reality, and offered to compensate offended customers.
KC's View:
Ironic. Because if Walmart had not mislabeled the pork, but just laced it with melamine or some other carcinogen, it probably would have gotten tax breaks.

Just to keep things in context, last May the New York Times had a story about China’s food safety issues, reporting that “a stomach-turning string of food-safety scandals this spring, from recycled buns to contaminated pork, makes it clear that official efforts are falling short. Despite efforts to create a modern food-safety regimen, oversight remains utterly haphazard, in the hands of ill-trained, ill-equipped and outnumbered enforcers whose quick fixes are even more quickly undone ... In recent weeks, China’s news media have reported sales of pork adulterated with the drug clenbuterol, which can cause heart palpitations; pork sold as beef after it was soaked in borax, a detergent additive; rice contaminated with cadmium, a heavy metal discharged by smelters; arsenic-laced soy sauce; popcorn and mushrooms treated with fluorescent bleach; bean sprouts tainted with an animal antibiotic; and wine diluted with sugared water and chemicals.”