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Sick, Dying Pigs Slaughtered for Food
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The markets watchdog of Shenzhen has launched an investigation into a scandal that unlicensed and unhygienic pork was supplied to a local market.

"We are very concerned about the issue. We will take appropriate action to punish the market if the allegations are confirmed," a spokesman for the Shenzhen industrial and commerce bureau told China Daily yesterday.

"We will destroy the unlicensed pork and boost efforts to ensure food safety for local people."

The local newspaper Daily Sunshine reported on Monday that about 260 live pigs, including ones that were sick and dying, were butchered daily at three illegal slaughterhouses before being transported to the nearby Guohui farm products market, a large-scale wet market in the Nanshan district of Shenzhen.

Undercover reporters also discovered that each of the pigs was injected with about 20 kg of water to falsely boost its weight and hence its value.

The scandal comes at a time when the retail price of pork is at a record high across the nation.

According to the report, the operators of the illegal business were making about 1,200 yuan (US$160) profit for each 50 kg pig they sold.

The unlicensed butchers, who worked from 2 AM to 7 AM each day, were also said to be earning more than 5,000 yuan a month, compared with the local average wage of about 3,000 yuan.

The market's manager, surnamed Liu, said all the pork on sale was from a government-authorized slaughterhouse. However, reporters could find receipts for just 19 pigs, far less than the number on sale.

According to the newspaper report, a man surnamed Ye, who is in charge of the pork stalls at Guohui market, admitted that unlicensed and problem meat had been sold. However, he promised to rectify the situation.

Shenzhen residents said they were anxious and angry about the alleged scandal.

"I buy pork from the market every day, but I never doubted its quality until I read the news. How can the market's management be so irresponsible? How can they neglect the people's health?" a woman surnamed Ma said.

The city's food safety system stipulates that all pork is quarantined before going on sale, and that all wet markets and supermarkets buy their meat from approved slaughterhouses.

(China Daily July 11, 2007)

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