Second Chinese city finds food safety issues at some Starbucks stores

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Food safety issues were found at over a dozen Starbucks outlets in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou, regulators said on Tuesday, a day after the U.S. coffee chain was criticised for violations at two other outlets in another city. 

  The Suzhou market supervision bureau said on its official WeChat account that it had inspected Starbucks' 226 stores in the city after a report by the Beijing News newspaper said two Starbucks' outlets in the city of Wuxi had used expired ingredients in their drinks. 

  The bureau said it found issues at 18 stores in Suzhou, including "irregular" sales and purchase records, uncovered trash bins, and employees working without masks. It ordered them to make immediate rectifications, adding that the remaining 208 stores were compliant with food safety requirements. 

  Starbucks had late on Monday apologised for the violations at its Wuxi stores and said it would carry out inspections and staff training across its over 5,000 stores in China. Its stores in Wuxi were also subject to inspections from the local government after the news report. 

  Asked about the Suzhou stores, a spokesperson for Starbucks referred Reuters to its Monday statement. 

  Chinese consumers and media have become more aggressive about protecting customer rights and monitoring the behaviour of big brands, especially from overseas. 

  China is the largest market for Starbucks outside the United States, with 5,360 stores as of Oct. 3, the firm's latest earnings report showed. 

  (Reporting by Brenda Goh; Additional reporting by Sophie Yu; Editing by Bernadette Baum) 

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