The Japanese unit of McDonald’s Corp booked its first annual operating loss since going public in 2001 and its January sales plunged by a record 39 per cent as food safety scandals drove customers away.

The earnings pain … is likely to continue with analysts saying they do not expect a quick turnaround in a country where consumers are highly attuned to food quality issues. January figures showed customer numbers down 29 per cent from a year earlier.

The company has also announced plans for third-party inspections of its kitchens, fresh training for staff and sharing of information about suppliers on its website.

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