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Watchdog: Majority of Dairy Food Safe

China's dairy products are safe and the overwhelming majority of Chinese cows are free of tuberculosis (TB), the country's animal health watchdog and industry insiders said on Thursday.


Jia Youling, director of the Ministry of Agriculture's Animal Husbandry Bureau, Thursday said China's cows are in sound health on the whole, despite sporadic reports of some infections such as tuberculosis.


The director's comments came the day after a TB-hit dairy farm was closed in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province.


More than 400 sick cows from the Guangzhou Yunyan Cattle Farm were slaughtered on Wednesday, the provincial animal husbandry bureau said.


The disease has been reported in some other parts of China, but none of the other cases has been as serious as that in Guangzhou, Jia said without giving details.


The official said the Ministry of Agriculture had released a technical code on the prevention of bovine TB, which requires veterinary departments or animal quarantine agencies to conduct regular vaccinations and inspections of cows every spring and autumn to discover and deal with any cases of bovine tuberculosis in dairies.


Hao Zhixiong, director of the Hohhot Animal Husbandry and Non-Staple Foodstuffs Office, said the capital of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region -- a leading dairy producer -- discovered some TB-infected cows earlier this year. But he did not say how many animals were infected.


The cows were treated and their milk was not allowed to enter the market, Hao said.


Yu Yedong, director of the Guangdong Animal Epidemic Prevention Station, said on Thursday: "No one has been reported as having been infected with tuberculosis by drinking milk or other dairy products, but we have to remain vigilant."


Zhao Fengru, an expert with the Beijing Dairy Cattle Center, said she believed that milk and other dairy products in the Chinese capital are safe for consumption because they have to go through a whole series of quality inspections.


The Beijing Sanyuan Food Co Ltd said all its source materials for its dairy products come from qualified farms and that the company's state-of-the-art quality-control equipment will weed out any substandard raw milk.


Wang Dingmian, director of the Guangzhou Dairy Association, said the government should subsidize farmers who have to slaughter their cows for reasons of epidemic control.


This would reduce the chance of farmers failing to notify the authorities of animal epidemics, as was the case at the Guangzhou Yunyan Cattle Farm.


(China Daily July 25, 2003)

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