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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ready For McDonald's Shinjo Tofu Nuggets?

In the wake of a still warm under the heat lamp chicken scandal, McDonald’s Holdings Co. (Japan) Ltd. is introducing a new nugget snack featuring the other white meat (no - not pork, though that would be better), known as Tofu Shinjo Nuggets.

We'll have to chalk this up to mere coincidence, because there is NO way McDonald's anywhere is launching a new product with only a week to prepare.

However… did McDonald's Japan push up the entry of the tofu nugget?

Nawwww… read on. By the way… along with the facts, I'm going to have a bit of fun here, you know… make a Happy Meal out of it.

These new Tofu Shinjo Nuggets made mainly from tofu (which is made from soy beans, of course) and vegetables have been released less than a week after it came to light that McDonald's Japan was halting all its chicken products imported from China.

There was a scandal at chicken-nugget supplier Shanghai Husi Food Co. of China—a story that was first revealed via Chinese media reports earlier this month—that Shanghai Husi was using expired meat in its products.

Apparently, the company knowingly mixed out-of-date meat with fresh product, re-labeled the expired goods, and sold it as being fresh.

That's just criminal.

Of course, McDonald's Japan has stopped using that supplier.

“I would like to extend my sincere apology to our valued customers,” states McDonald's Japan chief executive Sarah Casanova (I love that name), at a news conference on July 29, 2014.

Casanova adds that the tainted meat issue is “restricted to one supplier in one city.”

That's right... one supplier in one city. Not all of its Chinese suppliers.

About 20% of McDonald's chicken nuggets sold in Japan came from Shanghai Husi.

Workers produce food at the Shanghai Husi Food Co., a factory of U.S. food provider OSI Group, in Shanghai, July 20, 2014 (AFP Photo/). Some of the tainted meat MIGHT be in this photo.
There were no reports of any illness or deaths resulting from this situation.

McDonald's Japan says it will now use chicken meat from a recognized supplier in Thailand. Kob kun krab. That's Thai, and what a man would say, when uttering a polite 'thank-you very much'.

McDonald's will also use another supplier in China to help fill the chicken need.

Now... just before everyone goes - oh, those effing Chinese, you should know that Shanghai Husi is a subsidiary of OSI Group, a U.S. company. Ooooooh.

According to the Chinese newspaper the Global Times: "Famous international brands have not adopted a dedicated attitude toward Chinese consumers."

The implication is that this crime, and crimes like it, were brought to China by foreign companies imposing their will.

Maybe. But maybe not. I'm still saying there's a communication issue here - you know, like 'we need to supply our top customers quickly and efficiently at any cost'. And maybe to he folks at Shanghai Husi, that meant doing something criminal. Maybe. This is all supposition.

OSI Group has been supplying McDonald's in China since 1992, and actually set-up the Shanghai Husi meat processing plant in 1996. It would seem strange that this type of criminal, morally-reprehensible behavior has been going on since then.... so I would assume that the Chinese Global Times newspaper is indulging in a bit of kiss-ass propaganda with the Chinese government.

This is one of those instances where people had let product go bad and, afraid that if the bosses found out, everyone would lose their job, so they tried to hide it. This is stupidity, and poor personal managing choices. It is not a reflection on a whole company or on a nation.

(Yes, you will hear all sorts of stupid stuff happening in China, but truthfully, there's a whole lot of stupid stuff happening in every country. Having worked as a journalist with a top North American newspaper, I can still tell you that it was not always 'all the news that's fit to print', but rather 'all the news we feel like telling you'. The internet does alter that a fair bit, however.) 

As for Tofu Shinjo Nuggets, McDonald's Japan says that “The new nuggets do not include any chicken” but are made from ingredients that include onions, soybeans, carrots and minced fish.

Shinjo is a kind of Japanese food made of fish paste, starch and other ingredients. I am unsure what type of fish, or even what parts of the fish are used.

(It's like the term 'meat by-products' can imply blood and bone and well, use your imagination. It doesn't mean the finest cuts. To be fair, no one at McDonald's Japan is using the term 'fish by-products', but 'fish paste' is pretty damn vague, and does get around having to describe the actual ingredient(s). But again… there are these so-called 'other ingredients'. I'm sure there is nothing to worry about, because no one would ever sell anything remotely harmful to a customer, would they?) (Oh… waitaminute!)

These nuggets will be constructed or manufactured in Japanese factories, and will be available at a cost of ¥249 (US/Cdn $2.44) for four pieces beginning July 30, 2014 until late September.

Tofu Shinjo Nugget is the first nugget product to feature tofu as the main ingredient - though you will note that the key word is 'nugget product', implying there are other tofu products not called 'nugget'.

The new tofu nuggets will be served with a ginger-flavored sauce (though I'm sure I would also like the Mary-Ann-flavored sauce). “Because it isn’t meat, it tastes a bit different. It’s a bit softer,” the spokesperson says. “Calorie-wise, it is a bit lower than chicken as well.”

Yes... deep fried, breaded anything isn't going to be super-healthy.

As for these Shinjo Tofu Nuggets… the most important thing to ask is: "Does it taste just like chicken or fish?"

Or, if you are Japanese, perhaps the most important thing to ask is: "Does it taste just like tofu or does it taste like spoiled tofu - you know… natto?"Ugh. Scandalous.

Or, could they not simply have used the Chicken Of The Sea brand of white tuna meat? I'm pretty sure there's no chicken in it? The Japanese call white tuna meat the crappy part of the tuna fish, referring to it as 'shi chicken'… a brand fact I always found amusing.

Lastly, just to poke the panda bear, just what will McDonald's Japan do if relations with China get worse before they get better? Where will it get all of its chicken meat for its Chicken Nuggets? I mean… it did not sever ties with China, just ties with Shanghai Husi Food Co.

It still gets chicken from other suppliers there - I'm guessing (I don't know for certain)… but if Sino-China relations do get worse, can Thailand supply McDonald's Japan with all its chicken needs? I mean its fresh chicken meat?

And… since China and Japan are em-broiled in a MAD battle for superiority over who has the largest wang (in Japanese, suzuki) over ownership of some strategic islands that have been in Japan's possession for a century… is it possible that China is trying a bit of subterfuge, by purposely supplying Japan with tainted meat?

Is this a game of chicken? It sure tastes like it. LOL! Or is it LOL?

It is a pity about McDonald's Japan. I'm sure it cares greatly for consumer safety - just like all good companies should.

The only time I can think it isn't, is for arms manufacturers, though even all guns come with a safety.

And… for the record… tofu does not taste like chicken… if it does, it's because of the sauces added to it. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I happen to like tofu. It's tasty and good for you.

I personally don't feel the need to have a healthy food option such as tofu at my local fast-food restaurant, but I understand why it it is there. I can eat in a more healthy, controlled manner at home any time. When I eat out, or receive take-out, much like what every one suspected prior to the past 20 years, was that it was a treat. A chance to spoil oneself.

Now with the level of foods available at our local grocer - from healthy to not-so-healthy to convenience (same thing, often), it's like consumers expect the same damn options from fast-food outlets.

That, to me, is the real shame.

Trust me… people who never eat a salad at home are certainly not going to order a healthy salad option at McDonald's. And… if you can eat a salad option at home, why would you need to go to McDonald's?

The convenience… of course!

Tofu is being presented not as another healthy option - the thing looks deep-fried, after all - but rather it is being presented as a tasty convenience.

If I was in Japan, I would at least try the Shinjo Tofu Nuggets… but I'm pretty sure four nuggets ain't gonna cut it.

Andrew Joseph

1 comment:

  1. And I thought we got the monopole on food scandales with rotten meat mixd into fresh one, horse meat mixed into pork and beef, cucumbers causing temperature and the runs, problems with chicken eggs and other cool stuff. Guess even this is nowadays outsourced and made in china LOL.

    Would also at least try the new Nuggets, but probably still with normal "curry-sauce", despite the fact its causing my some reflux every time (eating like 20+ pieces though).

    Jaa ne,