Several Walmart outlets in China have withdrawn “five-spice donkey meat” after tests revealed the presence of fox meat.
The company is helping authorities in eastern Shandong province investigate the Chinese supplier.
Walmart confirmed it found traces of DNA from animals other than donkey after testing the product. The Shandong Food and Drug Administration had been reported as saying the product contained fox meat.
Walmart had withdrawn the product from the Jinan stores where the regional speciality was sold.
Donkey meat represents only a fraction of China’s meat consumption, but is considered by some to be a tasty snack.
Walmart China president and chief executive Greg Foran told media: “We are deeply sorry for this whole affair. It is a deep lesson [for us] that we need to continue to increase investment in supplier management.”
Walmart, in a statement on Weibo, the Twitter-like website in China, said Chinese authorities had detained employees of the supplier of the donkey-meat product sold in its stores in Jinan, which is the capital of Shandong province.
Fox meat is sold in China as an edible meat, but it fetches considerably less than donkey meat. The meat is a cheap byproduct of the fur trade.
Wal-Mart has an aggressive expansion plan in China, the world’s biggest grocery market.
Food safety remains a major issue in China, following several contamination scandals in recent years.