China has been hit by a fresh food scandal after the country’s largest meat processor, Shuanghui, was forced to apologize when an illegal additive was found in some of its pork products.
Jiyuan Shuanghui, an affiliate of the Henan-based Shuanghui Group, was said to have bought pigs that had been fed with clenbuterol. The additive can speed up muscle building and fat burning to produce leaner pork – lean meat sells for a premium in China.
Clenbuterol is banned in China because if eaten by humans it can lead to dizziness, heart palpitations, profuse sweating, nausea, headaches, limb tremors and even cancer.
The Henan province conducted urine tests on 1,512 pigs in nine pig farms, with 52 pigs testing positive. Immediately, chiefs of animal husbandry bureaus in Mengzhou City, Qinyang City and Wenxian County received duty suspension notices. Another 27 officials in the province were in police custody, sacked or suspended from duty. Also, the province intends to random test more than 1.63 million pigs in five counties and cities.
Meat products that are suspected of having been tarnished by the banned feed additive have already been taken off the shelves and meat confirmed to contain the additive have been destroyed, according to government officials.
While the China Meat Association tried to down play the possibility that tainted pork was widespread, many consumers will be avoiding pork for the moment. This pork scandal is definitely nothing new to the Chinese. There have been 18 outbreaks of food-related clenbuterol poisoning between 1998 and 2007, according to a report on the Shanghai Food Safety website. One person died and more than 1,700 others fell ill, the website said.
Well at least the salt scare is now over.