March 16/Beijing/Reuters -- China's food safety authorities said they were probing a Beijing outlet of McDonald's Corp, the world's biggest hamburger chain, after a report on state television pointed to quality problems there.

The CCTV report said the Sanlitun branch was selling food which had passed its expiry date, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

China's State Food and Drug Administration has asked the Beijing health bureau to investigate, and demanded McDonald's learn lessons from the incident and take steps to prevent it from happening again, the watchdog said in a statement on its website.

McDonald's ranks China as its third biggest market and has 1,400 restaurants there.

"All McDonald's (China) outlets must seriously carry out a full investigation on themselves in accordance with the demands of food safety laws and regulations for the food and beverage industry," it said.

McDonald's said in a statement on its China website ( that it was paying attention to the incident, and apologized to customers.

"Although this is a single incident, it is against McDonald's operating standards and is totally unacceptable. We will immediately start investigation on this store and will mete out severe punishment," it said.

Xinhua added that the branch in question had been shut.

 From the March 19, 2012, Prepared Foods' Daily News.