OSI Group cleans house in China

by Keith Nunes
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AURORA, ILL. — In the wake of a scandal at one of its meat processing plants in Shanghai, which involved accusations that included the processing of product beyond its “use by” date and the forging of production records, the OSI Group announced the reorganization of its business structure in the country and the appointment of a new management team. In addition, the company is withdrawing all products manufactured at the plant from the market.

“I am announcing today a number of sweeping changes of the OSI China organizational and management structure to assure corporate compliance and the integrity of the systems and processes of our operations in China,” said David McDonald, president and chief operation officer of the OSI Group. “Our China operations will now become a part of the OSI International umbrella, directly embedded into our corporate organization, rather than operating as a separate, decentralized entity. This new organization will be called OSI International China.”

The new leadership team for OSI International China includes Ben Afman as managing director of Asia Pacific with responsibility for China; Michael Boccio, vice-president of further processed operations; B.K. Girdhar, vice-president of quality assurance; and Sharon Birkett, who is currently vice-president of North America quality and has now had her responsibilities include global quality compliance and auditing.

“In addition to these changes, we will 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 actual visual confirmation through extended observation,” Mr. McDonald said.

On top of the management structural changes, Mr. McDonald added that OSI has ceased the operations of the Shanghai plant for internal and external investigations, and the company plans to extend its internal reviews to other manufacturing plants in China to ensure compliance to its standards.

The company’s internal investigation of what happened at the Shanghai plant is still ongoing, Mr. McDonald said.

“To date, our investigations have found issues that are absolutely inconsistent with our internal requirements for highest standards, process and policies,” he said.

The OSI Group is a supplier to some of the largest food service companies in the world, most notably McDonald’s Corp. and Yum! Brands International. Problems at the Shanghai plant have reverberated throughout the food service industry in China, with restaurant operators pulling product that may be associated with the OSI Shanghai plant.
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