Food Safety: Dog Meat on Sale at Carrefour Supermarkets in China Prompts Concerns

China supermarket
Shoppers ride on a travelator at a supermarket in Beijing, China, October 15, 2015. Animals Asia investigators say they found dog meat on sale in supermarkets in Xuzhou. Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters

Updated | French-owned supermarket chain Carrefour is selling dog meat products in at least two supermarkets in China, according to a report by an animal charity. Animals Asia and its consultancy Ya Dong said two branches of the store in Xuzhou had items on the shelves containing dog meat when its investigators visited stores in 2016.

In 2012, the chain, which has 10,000 stores worldwide, pledged to the charity that they would stop stocking products made of dog meat. Yet, Animals Asia said it found products during a routine inspection that were found to contain dog meat as a prominently listed ingredient.

Fresh Dog Meat, listed as the main ingredient Dog meat is listed as the main ingredient. Animals Asia

Employees of the Ya Dong consultancy visited 150 supermarkets in 11 cities in their investigation into evidence of animal cruelty. The investigators listed products including “Fankuai turtle-juiced dog meat,” which costs 136 RMB (approximately $20) and lists dog meat among its ingredients.

Carrot Chen, cat and dog welfare manager of Ya Dong in China, told Newsweek that she is concerned about the products not only because of the issues around animal welfare, but also because of the threat such products pose to food safety. “[Selling dog meat] is not illegal in China, but the practice isn’t exactly legal. Every stage of dog meat production breaks food safety laws,” she says. “Many of the animals are untraceable. We’ve done an investigation into this between 2011-2015, and found that many of the dogs used in dog meat were stolen pets or strays off the street.”

Jill Robinson, Animal Asia’s founder, says that the issue has gone beyond being solely a food safety problem and poses a wider social welfare threat. “Many of these animals are pets and are killed using cyanide, often with bows and arrows so this can pass to the food chain.”

She says that transportation is an added problem on animal cruelty and safety fronts. “There are hundreds of dogs transported in vans. Fights break out and dogs even give birth to puppies while being transported. This is not humane, and it’s also not sanitary. We have no evidence of whether these dogs have had vaccinations or not.”

Fresh Dog Meat, listed as the main ingredient Dog meat is listed as the main ingredient. Animals Asia

Though selling dog meat is not completely illegal, China has recently banned its sale at the controversial Guilin Dog Meat Festival. Animal rights activists have regularly protested the event over the conditions the animals are kept in, and have estimated that 3,000 dogs are killed at the festival each year.

Pankaj KC, the director of animals in communities at World Animal Protection says that the production of dog meat involves “inherent cruelty.”

“Dogs are crammed into small cages without food and water and transported for long periods of time. Whether legal or illegal—this kind of inhumane practice must stop,” he says.

He welcomed efforts to restrict the trade, saying, “We hope that this cruel practice will now be a thing of the past in China and other countries across the globe."

Carrefour told Newsweek that they would like to specify this is a locally produced product sold in only two stores in Xuzhou (Jiangsu). "We immediately took the items off of the shelves."

This story has been updated to include comment from Carrefour.