Over 300 pigs imported for slaughter in Hong Kong have been found to have been tainted with salbutamol and clenbuterol, a banned substance. The drugs are supposed to be used to treat asthma, but can encourage quick growth in animals as well as encourage lean growth. They are sometimes consumed by sport cheats to gain advantage over ‘clean’ athletes.
Hong Kong imports over 90% of the pork consumed. Only 6% is produced in the former colony. Two hundred registered farms on mainland China supply the animals for slaughter. This amounts to about 4000 pig per day.
There is a testing system in place, but it seems to have failed the consumers. The government testing agency states that the animals are killed only after they have been tested and cleared, while the slaughter houses state that if they do not hear from the testing agency they kill the animals.
The suggestion that animals be tested and held for 24 hours before slaughter in order to ensure that all test results are in order was not well received. The added cost to the consumer was given as one reason. Another reason given was that it would not be healthy for the pigs to remain in crowded conditions before being killed.
There is an investigation as to whether the pigs were administered the drugs while on their way to market as the levels were “unusually high”.
The HK secretary for food and health castigated the inspection division and in a press conference put the blame squarely on them. The HK government stated that they would reimburse the merchants for the tainted meat.
Food scandals are an ongoing problem in the PRC. The site The Daily Meal has passed on what they saw as the top four food scandals of 2015. Perhaps the scandals will be fewer in 2016 due to new laws passed last October.
South China Morning Post
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