Beijing News newspaper, in what it described as a secret investigation, said the incidents occurred at two stores in east China’s Wuxi city.
“We take what was reported by the local media very seriously and immediately closed the two stores in question for a full investigation,” said a spokesperson for Starbucks.
“Since entering the Chinese market 22 years ago, we have been committed to implementing strict food safety standards and adopting a policy of ‘zero tolerance’ towards food safety issues. We welcome the continued monitoring of members of the media and the public. “
The company has not commented on the details of the report.
The incident became a hot topic on Chinese Twitter-like social media site Weibo after the report was published.
Chinese consumers and media have become more aggressive in protecting customer rights and monitoring the behavior of big brands, especially foreign ones.
Some targets, such as Canadian winter clothing brand Canada Goose, which has sparked complaints about its refund policies, have come under fire from the government, while Chinese brands such as the milk tea chain Nayuki also caught the public’s attention.
China is the largest market for Starbucks outside of the United States with 5,360 stores as of Oct. 3, according to the company’s latest earnings report.
The Beijing News report said one of the Starbucks stores used expired matcha liquid to make lattes, while another put up pastries for sale to be thrown away.
As of Monday afternoon, the topic of Starbucks’ response to the Beijing News report had received more than 50 million views on Weibo. Commentators have expressed both disappointment and concern over more widespread issues.
“If Starbucks is like this, I’m really worried about other stores,” said a Weibo user named Revario. “They come under scrutiny because it’s a foreign brand.”