Well, we do not know for sure if the meat did glow in the dark, but China has a bevy of food safety problems that boggle the mind.  Now Walmart has been affected:  the global retailing giant was recently ordered to close some stores in Chongqing and pay the equivalent of US$420,000 in penalties.  The reason?  Tons of pork has been mislabeled as “organic.”

As The Huffington Post reports:

China still is reporting constant problems with mislabeling, repackaging of expired food, counterfeit and substandard food and other issues despite long and repeated efforts to improve enforcement of food safety rules. Such cases are common in markets and smaller stores, but alleged violations by big foreign stores tend to draw more attention.

Of course, Walmart’s critics will react with glee as this chapter gives them another reason to criticize the company’s tactics.  Never mind the fact that China is rife with dodgy business practices and that mishaps at foreign-owned and -branded stores earn relentless press attention.  Nevertheless, there are some corporate social responsibility (CSR) lessons here that are often overlooked.

While we do not know the full story and we are not absolving Walmart of responsibility, incidents like these are the results of a complicated and tangled supply chain.  And many of Walmart’s stores in China are from acquisitions--so old relationships and business practices die hard.  Add local politics into the mix and running a business in China would be a headache for any company.

My guess is that Walmart will bounce back quickly from this setback.  There is way more to the story that a company slapping the wrong label on some meat.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.