Carrefour shuts China’s Store amid Mislabeling Chicken

Carrefour SA (CA), the world’s second- largest retailer, shut an outlet in central China’s Henan province on orders from the local government after it falsely labeled meat sold at the store.

Carrefour will focus on training employees in food handling, it said in an e-mailed statement today. The closure is temporary, the Boulogne-Billancourt, France-based retailer said, without specifying how long the shop will be shut for or whether it will extend to outlets nationwide.

The move follows closures by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) in China after the world’s largest retailer was ordered to close all 13 stores in Chongqing city in October for mislabeling ordinary pork as organic. Carrefour sold regular chicken as premium for higher prices at the Zhengzhou outlet in Henan and altered labels for meat production dates, China Central Television said in a broadcast to mark World Consumer Rights Day on March 15.

Carrefour removed fresh meat from shelves at the Zhengzhou store a day after the broadcast by state-owned CCTV, the retailer said today. The company said it has set up an emergency committee to investigate the matter and suspended an official working at the outlet.

The French retailer today repeated the “sincere apology” it issued on March 16 to Chinese customers after the CCTV report. Carrefour, which officially opened its 204th hypermarket in China on March 15, also pledged to provide better service.

Wal-Mart’s Chongqing outlets were shut for two weeks over the pork mislabeling. The retailer was fined 3.65 million yuan ($578,000) and 37 employees were detained, the most serious punishment for the company since entering the market in 1996.

Ed Chan, president of Wal-Mart’s China operations, resigned for personal reasons after the incident. Scott Price, the head of Asia operations, apologized to Chongqing Mayor Huang Qifan and promised to correct the problems.