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1,400 slaughterhouses shut down in crackdown
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More than 1,400 substandard slaughterhouses have been shut down in the past three months under a special campaign to improve product quality and food safety, a commerce ministry official said yesterday.

By mid-November, 1,112 pig-slaughter enterprises were closed because they did not meet national standards and another 340 shut down for violating industry regulations, Xu Xihe, deputy director of the ministry's department of market operation regulation, told a Beijing forum on China's meat product safety and trade development.

The closures were ordered during an inspection of all the 23,052 slaughterhouses in the country.

The crackdown also targeted illegal slaughter, which has increased following substantial pork price rises since May, Xu said.

By mid-November, 6,396 unlicensed slaughterhouses had been banned from business and 1.94 million kg of pork products confiscated as a result of joint action by police, agriculture, commerce and quality inspection and quarantine authorities.

To monitor pork supply from pig-raising, slaughtering and processing to distribution and consumption, the authorities have established a "farm to table" inspection scheme, Xu said.

"All the pork in cities and 95 percent in villages now comes from licensed slaughterhouses; in cities and towns, 100 percent of the pork sold or used in markets, supermarkets and restaurants is from registered slaughterhouses," he said.

Per capita annual consumption of pork is 40 kg in cities and 20 kg in villages; and the nation is one of the largest meat consumers in the world.

The nationwide inspection of slaughter enterprises is part of the campaign the central government launched in August to improve product quality.

Concerns over product safety prompted the government to form a Cabinet-level panel on food safety and quality control led by Vice-Premier Wu Yi.

Eight categories of products including pork, drugs and toys are under scrutiny.

(China Daily December 7, 2007)

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