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Yum! Brands denies Little Sheep involvement in China lamb scandal

RBR Staff Writer Published 08 May 2013

US-based Yum! Brands has denied allegations that its nearly 450 Little Sheep outlets in China are involved in the country’s fake lamb scandal, the latest tainted food problem in China.

The latest comments from Yum! followed Shanghai authorities announcement that mislabeled mutton from a wholesaler which according to a government website supplied Little Sheep and other restaurants, is being tested.

Yum! spokesman Jonathan Blum told Reuters that it receives mutton from two approved Chinese suppliers, which the company regularly audits and there is no evidence of any contaminated product in the system.

"The rumor is completely inaccurate and false," he added.

Yum! Brands purchased a majority stake in Little Sheep in February 2012 and now owns 93% of the hot pot chain.

The Kentucky-based company, which operates Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and WingStreet restaurants worldwide, had been embroiled in food safety scare in 2012 following revelations that one of its chicken supplier had supplied meat contaminated with antibiotics.

Meanwhile, sales at its established KFC outlets in China declined by 20% during the first quarter and Yum! had issued profit warning that sales would fall sharply with bird flu fears.

Yum! presently operates around 5,300 restaurants in China, of which majority are KFC. It also operates Pizza Hut outlets in the country.