French retailer Carrefour has removed dog meat products from two supermarkets in China after an outcry from animal rights groups.

Animals Asia said it had already asked the international chain, which operates over 200 stores in China, to remove dog meat from its shelves in 2012.

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This picture taken on June 18, 2014 shows a woman cutting dog meat on sale at a market in Yulin, south China’s Guangxi province. File photo: Stringer/AFP.

The company promised to do so, it said, but an inspection by the charity last month found two branches of Carrefour supermarkets in the eastern city of Xuzhou prominently featured dog meat products.

These included “Fankuai turtle-juiced dog meat” sold for 136 yuan (20 dollars), as well as smaller packages of dried dog meat sold for 25.60 yuan.

Carrefour said in a statement that “this is a locally produced product which is sold in only two stores in Xuzhou”.

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Dog meat listed as an ingredient at a Carrefour store. Photo: Animals Asia.

The company said the items were taken off shelves on Tuesday.

“Few people in China expect a supermarket to carry dog meat products. Eating dogs and cats is a minority activity which is considered outdated by the young and middle-class,” Animals Asia’s director of cat and dog welfare Irene Feng said in a statement.

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Dog meat. Photo: Wikicommons.

“The last thing China’s animal protection campaigners need is for a modern international supermarket chain to normalise cat and dog eating and support an industry rife with cruelty and illegality,” Feng added.

As many as 10 million dogs are killed for food annually in China, according to the Humane Society International.

Dog meat consumption is not illegal in China, but animal rights groups have sought to stop its sale at a controversial annual festival in the southwestern town of Yulin.

The Humane Society International said authorities have banned dog meat sales in Yulin for the festival later this month, but local restaurants have told AFP they were unaware of such a decision.

Thousands of dogs are traditionally killed during the festival in conditions activists describe as brutal, with dogs beaten and boiled alive in the belief that the more terrified they are, the tastier the meat.

Dog meat sellers have said previously that activists’ protests have actually attracted greater attention and encouraged more people to eat the meat.

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