Sat, Feb 05, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Officials urge more effort to prevent sales of bad pork

ILLEGAL NETWORKS Officials made the call as the justice ministry ordered an investigation into bad meat flooding the markets recently

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Agriculture and swine industry officials yesterday urged the government to improve efforts to address the illegal sale of meat from sick and dead pigs, after a special investigation team of the Yunlin County Government arrested meat suppliers and distributors for selling bad pork on Tuesday.

Chang Ming-tsung (張明聰), head of Yunlin's Agriculture Bureau and Yeh Tzu-li (葉子力), secretary-general of the ROC Swine Association called for an effective system to look into the problem.

Meanwhile, officials from Yunlin's Animal Disease Control Center (雲林縣家畜疾病防治所) acknowledged that the current process for handling pork from sick and dead pigs is flawed, as the meat can easily be re-directed to slaughter houses on its way to local incinerators.

In response, the Ministry of Justice has instructed the Yunlin District Prosecutors' Office to look into the pork from sick and dead pigs flooding into major meat markets.

Vice Justice Minister Yen Ta-he (顏大和) announced the action at a press conference yesterday as the whole nation continued to focus on the problem following the arrest of some meat suppliers and distributors.

According to prosecutors, these suppliers and distributors made as much as NT$1 million per month from selling bad pork.

Reports said that nearly 10,000kg of the bad pork has found its way into major hotels, restaurants and shopping malls in Taipei City and County, Taichung City and County, Yunlin, Kaohsiung and Pingtung Counties, and Chiayi City.

Earlier, the media also reported that the pork may have been served at some state banquets in central Taiwan for visiting foreign dignitaries.

The Presidential Office denied the reports on Thursday.

"The Presidential Office has not used pork in state banquets for years out of respect for the different customs of different nations," said some public affairs officials at the Presidential Office, who took the initiative to send messages to reporters for clarification.

Yen said that the Yunlin District Prosecutors' Office found that some illicit crime rings are collecting the pork, and that investigators have discovered that about five slaughterhouses in Yunlin were involved.

Prosecutors are now working to track their distribution networks.

Taipei City's Department of Health yesterday launched inspections at 48 supermarkets and shopping malls.

Inspectors found suspicious pork near a local market, and have since contacted Yunlin prosecutors.

Yunlin County raises more than 1.3 million hogs annually. Judging by the 75 percent survival rate of hogs raised at farms, the number of sick or dead pigs could be large, reports said.

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