March 16, 2012 at 9:14 AM ET
A Chinese state TV report has prompted food safety authorities to probe a McDonald's restaurant in Beijing for allegedly selling food that was past its expiry date.
The CCTV report Thursday said the Sanlitun McDonald's branch sold chicken wings 90 minutes after they were cooked while the company's rules set a 30-minute limit.
China's State Food and Drug Administration has asked the Beijing health bureau to investigate, and demanded McDonald's learn lessons from the incident and take steps to prevent it from happening again, the watchdog said in a statement on its website.
"All McDonald's (China) outlets must seriously carry out a full investigation on themselves in accordance with the demands of food safety laws and regulations for the food and beverage industry," it said.
McDonald's ranks China as its third biggest market and has 1,400 restaurants there.
McDonald's said in a statement on its China website that it was paying attention to the incident, and apologised to customers.
"Although this is a single incident, it is against McDonald's operating standards and is totally unacceptable. We will immediately start investigation on this store and will mete out severe punishment," it said.
Xinhua added that the branch in question had been shut.
Food safety is a sensitive issue in China, which has been rocked by scandals ranging from deadly infant formula to chemical-laced pork and recycled restaurant oil.
Employees who answered the phone at McDonald's China headquarters in Shanghai said a spokeswoman was not available and declined to give any other details.
Last year, Wa-Mart Stores Inc., was fined by authorities in the southwestern city and 13 stores were ordered to close for two weeks on charges of passing off regular pork as higher-priced organic meat.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.