n Alibaba-owned supermarket has been caught swapping the expiration date labels on food at one of its Shanghai stores, resulting in two workers being fired and their CEO issuing an apology.
A shopper told Shanghai TV that he saw an employee at Fresh Hema’s Daning store replacing tags on a pack of carrots that indicated expiration dates of November 9, 10, and 11 with ones that showed November 15.
According to Shanghai Daily, the shopper immediately tipped off the supermarket to the incident and was offered ¥1,000 to withdraw his complaint, which he refused. The shopper then reported it to the local authorities in charge of food safety.
A follow-up investigation by officers from the Jing’an District Market Supervision Bureau found 180 packages of carrots have been tampered with and 107 were sold by November 14. The rest were taken off the shelves.
Hema has since sacked both the staff responsible and the general manager of the store, and their CEO Hou Yi issued an apology on November 21 via Weibo.
“Dear customers, we deeply apologize to you. Sorry!”
Hou also promised to recruit consumers as service inspectors who would carry out twice-weekly surprise visits to any Shanghai store and report directly to Hou. He eventually plans to expand the program nationwide.
By law, businesses caught engaging in fraudulent practices can either be fined up to five times the illegal profits or up to ¥100,000. They are also liable to compensate consumers three times the price of the product, or ¥500 if the compensation figure is lower.
Before this incident, Fresh Hema was more popularly known for setting up Shanghai’s first robot restaurant, which automates the process from seating to service.