New Delhi: McDonald’s India Pvt. Ltd (MIPL), the local unit of the American fast food chain, on Thursday expressed concern over the quality and safety of food served across 169 McDonald’s restaurants run by its north and east India licencee Connaught Plaza Restaurants Pvt. Ltd (CPRL).

CPRL is a joint venture between McDonald’s India (MIPL) and its estranged partner Vikram Bakshi.

“Since the termination of the franchise agreements, MIPL has not been able to verify if the unauthorized McDonald’s restaurants operated by CPRL in north and east India are complying with applicable McDonald’s standards, including those pertaining to supplies, operations and safety standards and quality required for McDonald’s products. These restaurants need to be closed immediately," an MIPL spokesperson said, in an emailed statement on Thursday morning.

McDonald’s India, on 21 August, had terminated its franchise pact with CPRL. According to the termination, Bakshi was supposed to cease using McDonald’s name, trademarks, designs, branding, operational and marketing practice and policies and food recipes and specifications from 6 September 2017. So far, Bakshi has continued to operate these restaurants.

McDonald’s India’s statement came in response to CPRL saying that it had partnered with a new logistics company ColdEX Logistics on 27 December, after its original logistics partner Radhakrishna Foodland Pvt. Ltd discontinued supplies to the company on 20 December and 84 restaurants had to face closure owing to it.

As of Thursday, 20 McDonald’s restaurants had resumed operations. Bakshi had kept the name of the new partner under the wraps until late Thursday.

In the statement sent earlier, MIPL disapproved the new “unknown" logistics partner that is, at present, managing the distribution network for all 169 McDonald’s restaurants.

“Food quality and safety are affected by all facets of the supply chain, from raw material sourcing and production to manufacturing to restaurant handling and preparation. Transportation and storage are critical links in the process. The unknown distribution centre is not approved to supply within the McDonald’s system," MIPL added.

When contacted for comment, Bakshi said that ColdEX “has been chosen very carefully by the CPRL team after a thorough due diligence."

Also read: Inside the McDonald’s-Vikram Bakshi controversy

ColdEX Logistics is a Gurugram-based cold chain company serving brands like KFC, Domino’s, Burger King, Subway, Starbucks, ITC, Nestle and Amul, according to the website of the company.

“It has bagged the contract for supply services for nine of the ten new quick service restaurant (QSR) businesses that entered the country in the last five years. It owns 850 reefer vehicles and eight distribution centres, making it of a far greater size than Radhakrishna Foodland Pvt. Ltd. We are extremely confident that they (ColdEX) will be able to deliver to our standards and expectations," said Bakshi.

The McDonald’s-Bakshi feud goes back to 2013 when the former had voted against the re-election of Bakshi as the managing director of CPRL. Bakshi challenged his removal at the Company Law Board (now National Company Law Tribunal or NCLT), accusing McDonald’s India of mismanagement and oppression. NCLT reinstated Bakshi as managing director in July this year.

While McDonald’s India has challenged the NCLT order in National Company Law Appellate Tribunal or NCLAT, Bakshi has challenged the termination of franchise pact in NCLT, for being in contempt of an earlier NCLT order, which had asked McDonald’s to refrain from interfering in the functioning of CPRL.

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