Lee Kum Kee
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (January 2007)|
|Founder(s)||Lee Kum Sheung|
|Headquarters||Hong Kong, China|
Lee Kum Kee International Holdings Ltd. is a food company which specialized in manufacturing oyster flavored sauce and a wide range of authentic Chinese and Asian sauces founded by Lee Kum Sheung in 1888 in Nanshui, Guangdong. Lee Kum Kee currently produces over 200 Chinese-style sauces, including soy sauce, hoisin sauce, XO sauce, one-step recipe sauce, chili sauce, cooking ingredients, and dipping sauce.
The company is based in Hong Kong but its products are sold in over 100 countries worldwide including China, and in many overseas markets, including North America, Europe, Southeast Asia and Australia. Its primary brand, Lee Kum Kee (Chinese: 李錦記; pinyin: Lǐjǐnjì; Cantonese: Lei Gam Gei) is well known throughout China and the overseas Chinese community. Lee Kum Kee was named Most Popular Brand On-line at the 2004 Hong Kong Top Brand Awards.
The company was founded by Lee Kum Sheung (pinyin: Lǐ Jǐnshàng), a chef at a small eatery that sold cooked oysters, who is credited with having invented oyster sauce in Nanshui, Zhuhai, Guangdong. In 1888, he formed the Lee Kum Kee company to market what has now become a staple sauce, seasoning and condiment in Cantonese and southern Chinese cuisine.
From 1902 to 1988, the company's office was located in Macau and in 1988 it moved to its newest headquarters in Hong Kong’s Taipo Industrial Estate. Lee Kum Kee opened a United States of America based headquarters in City of Industry, California in Greater Los Angeles followed by a Canadian headquarters in Toronto, Ontario. Production bases are located in Xinhui, Huangpu, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Los Angeles. The Xinhui factory is the largest operation occupying 1,700 acres.
In 2000-2001, Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) identified various brands of Chinese and South-East Asian sauces, including Lee Kum Kee products, with known carcinogens 3-MCPD and 1,3-dichloropropanol (1,3-DCP) contamination at levels hundreds of times higher than those deemed safe by the UK and European Union. Lee Kum Kee was not singled out in what appeared to be an industry-wide problem. The results were published in a June 2001 report.
Lee Kum Kee responded by stating that the affected products were all manufactured before 1999 when the manufacturing technology was updated; as a result, from 1999 their products contain no DCP.  In a press release, Lee Kum Kee said that FSA cleared Lee Kum Kee's name in a separate statement to the industry issued within 24 hours of the FSA's initial report which indicated that "None of the products sampled from major retail chains posed any safety concern" and stressed that "there was no reason to avoid Chinese food." Lee Kum Kee also claimed that Food and Environmental Hygiene Department of the Government of Hong Kong has indicated that all Lee Kum Kee products in Hong Kong complied with safety standards as evidenced by a separate study.
Additionally, in July 2001 Lee Kum Kee submitted to FSA certificates of analysis for the presence of 3-MCPD which showed that the soy sauce imported into Europe complies with the proposed EU limit for 3-MCPD.
- "Food Standards Agency: Survey of 1,3-Dichloropropanol (1,3-DCP) in Soy Sauce and Related Products (18 June 2001)". Retrieved 2012-12-19.
- "Food Standards Agency: Soy sauces and related products - Further information (21 June 2001)". Retrieved 2012-12-19.