Tainted pork containing ‘illegal food additives’ sold to Hong Kong retailers

Urine samples from 319 pigs from two farms in China were found to be contaminated with remnants of illegal food additives – Salbutamol and Clenbuterol – drugs normally used in medication for asthma.

Author : Naomi NG

 Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture

Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture

At least 40 pigs contaminated with illegal food additives have been sent to 27 retailers across the city, according to government authorities.

It is unclear whether the tainted pork has been sold or consumed, but a spokesman for the Centre for Food Safety said it does not pose a serious health hazard to residents, and that they have already notified all retailers to stop selling the products.

Urine samples from 319 pigs from two farms in China were found to be contaminated with remnants of illegal food additives – Salbutamol and Clenbuterol – drugs usually used in medication for asthma, according to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

Fork Ping-lam, assistant director of the FEHD said that 40 pigs left the slaughterhouse in Sheung Shui, and they have launched an investigation into the incident.

China arrests more than 110 people suspected of selling contaminated pork

Ricky Ng Kwok-ming, member of the Fresh Meat United, questioned why results of the urine tests took so long to be issued.

“The pigs were slaughtered at midnight, but we were notified of the problem at only around 1.30am [on Friday morning],” Ng told the South China Morning Post.

He said that reports of the test, which are conducted by veterinary physicians of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, are usually out at around 10.30 to 10.45pm each night.

“If pigs were found to have problems, we could still have two hours to identify them and prevent them from being slaughtered,” Ng said, adding that the pigs originated from Jiangxi province in Southeastern China.

Hong Kong’s food safety is paramount

“Were the people responsible for the urine test all asleep? We have never had this happen before. If the pigs were a problem, how could they not realise that [in time]?” said Ng.

Authorities would not answer why the contaminated pork was allowed to leave the slaughterhouse, saying that they would need to conduct a comprehensive review of the related procedures.

“We will closely monitor the process of animals entering slaughterhouses and sample testing procedures,” Fork said.

Dr Philip Ho Yuk-yin, a consultant in risk assessment and communication at the Centre for Food Safety, said the drugs, usually used to prevent pigs from gaining fat, are illegal if used on animals.

“People may experience symptoms which include: an increased heart rate, dizziness, headaches, trembling and nervousness if they consume pork with exceeding levels of the drugs, especially in the internal organs,” Ho said.

The tainted pork has been sent to 27 retailers across Hong Kong, including two Wellcome supermarkets in Lam Tin and Sheung Shui, and three Kai Bo Food Supermarkets.

Ng, who works as a pork buyer, said his shop has also been asked to stop the sale even though they did not purchase the contaminated pork.

Source : South China Morning Post