Food Safety / Industry News

OSI Shuts Down China Operations; Appoints New Food Safety Leadership Team

David McDonald, president and COO of OSI Group, Aurora, Ill., shared a statement outlining the preliminary findings in the meat processor’s ongoing food safety scandal in its Husi Shanghai, China, operations.

While the internal investigation is still ongoing, OSI continues to work closely with the Shanghai Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. To date, investigations have “found issues that are absolutely inconsistent with our internal requirements for highest standards, process and policies,” according to OSI’s statement.

Actions taken include:

  • Immediately ceased the operations of the Shanghai Husi plant for internal and external investigations.
  • Extended internal reviews to other manufacturing sites in China to ensure compliance of global standards.
  • Withdrew all products manufactured by Shanghai Husi from the marketplace.
  • Conducted a thorough internal investigation into possible failures or misconduct on the part of current and former senior management.
  • Created a new management structure for China to ensure that operations meet global expectations and standards.

Also, a number of sweeping changes of the OSI China organizational and management structure took place to assure corporate compliance and the integrity of the systems and processes of the China operations, which will now become part of the OSI International umbrella, directly embedded into the corporate organization, rather than operating as a separate, decentralized entity. This new organization will be called OSI International China.

Leadership responsibilities for China operations were reassigned, effective immediately.

Brent Afman, senior vice president and a direct corporate employee with the company for 20 years, is managing director of Asia Pacific with responsibility for China. Previously, Afman was responsible for operations in Australia, Taiwan and two U.S. facilities.

Michael Boccio, vice president of further processed operations, is a 22-year OSI veteran and previously general nanager of China operations from 1992-1998. He has also been responsible for operations in Indonesia, the Philippines and has held various responsibilities in the United States. Boccio will be responsible for the further processing activities, including the operations of Beijing, Henan, produce, human relations and sales.

Dr. B.K. Girdhar, vice president of quality assurance – China, has 25 years of OSI experience and will be responsible for quality systems in the further processing and produce businesses in China.

The responsibilities of Sharon Birkett, currently vice president of North America quality, will be elevated to additionally include global quality compliance and auditing. Birkett will also be responsible for enhanced surveillance of quality compliance in China.

In addition to these changes, OSI plans to assign a vigilant rotation of global experts to continuously survey these operations and implement exhaustive audit steps, which will include constant visual surveillance and extensive employee interviews that concretely identify not only critical production measures and document compliance, but also actual visual confirmation through extended observation.

Eric Wu, global financial internal audit, will be responsible for enhanced surveillance, as will Alice Wang, corporate compliance.

OSI International China remains committed to China, and has invested more than $50 million in China in the past five years. OSI announced plans to set up an OSI Asia Quality Control Center located in Shanghai. The center, staffed by a team of international and local teams, will provide quality assurance for all OSI sites across the country. It can also provide support to other Chinese food companies.

To promote awareness for food safety among the Chinese public, OSI also created a 3-year OSI Food Safety Education Campaign in China with a $10 million RMB investment.

“Food safety is never compromised at OSI,” says McDonald. “It is the cornerstone of our business and for our customers. We understand that we still have a lot of work to do to reclaim the respect and trust of our customers, the government and consumers. We are committed to doing this work.”

OSI Group received Refrigerated & Frozen Foods’ 2014 Refrigerated Foods Processor of the Year award for its food safety and sustainability initiatives.

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