March 15, 2013
Thousands of dead pigs in a Shanghai river have cast a spotlight on China’s poorly regulated farm production, with the country’s favourite meat joining a long list of food scares.
As of Friday, the number of carcasses recovered in recent days from the Huangpu river — which cuts through the commercial hub and supplies over 20 percent of its drinking water — had reached more than 7,500.
Shanghai has blamed the farmers of Jiaxing in neighbouring Zhejiang province for casting pigs thought to have died of disease into the river upstream, but officials from the area have admitted to only a single producer doing so.
The city has stepped up inspections of markets to stop meat from the dead animals from reaching dining tables of its 23 million people.
From recycled cooking oil to dangerous chemicals in baby milk powder, a series of food scandals in China has caused huge public concern.
Pork is king in China, accounting for 64 percent of total meat output last year, and urban residents with growing wallets and waistlines ate 20.63 kilograms (45 pounds) of the meat per person in 2011.
Images of Shanghai’s dead pigs have hit the nation’s collective gut, but in Zhulin village, a major hog-raising centre in Jiaxing, the farmers claim their innocence in the scandal.
“The government is very strict. We give our pigs vaccinations. If they are sick, they can’t be sold,” said Pan Juying, 57, as she hoisted two baskets of freshly cut grass to feed her eight pigs.
But a bloated piglet lying by the roadside a hundred metres (yards) away from a stream showed that not all dead animals are properly disposed of.
Wang Wei, a veterinarian for the Hengyuan Company which produces medicines for farm animals, said a large number of pigs died from unknown causes in Zhejiang just before and after the Chinese Lunar New Year in February.
This article was posted: Friday, March 15, 2013 at 6:54 am