Sun, Feb 06, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Minister calls for pork measures

BAD SWINE After revelations that meat from sick or dead pigs had been sold in markets across the country, the Justice Minister said public health was paramount

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Justice Morley Shih (施茂林) yesterday asked prosecutors to form a task force to investigate imports of pork and other agricultural products from China.

"It is law enforcement's responsibility to provide for the public a safe and healthy environment," Shih said. "So I have discussed these problems with officials of the Council of Agricultural Affairs and the Ministry of Interior, and we will cooperate to crack down on bad agricultural products."

"At least six of the biggest district prosecutors' office -- in Taipei, Banciao, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung -- will form task forces to crack down on crimes relating to consumer goods after the Lunar New Year holiday," Shih said.

In addition, Shih said that Taiwan's enforcement has focused on criminal cases involving firearms and drugs but ignored crimes affecting most people's everyday life, so he has consulted with police authorities to make the crackdown on bad agricultural products a priority.

Shih said that agricultural products smuggled from China -- mostly herbs -- have caused health problems, and that prosecutors will investigate smugglers, suppliers and distributors of bad farm products.

"[Perpetrators of] crimes that affect public health will be charged with more serious crimes, and prosecutors will also recommend heavier sentences to courts," Shih added.

The Ministry of Justice has instructed the Yunlin County Prosecutor's Office to step up an investigation into pork from sick and dead pigs, which were discovered on sale in major meat markets nationwide.

Following the arrest of a meat supplier in Yunlin County and a major distributor in Taichung -- who have been making money by selling bad pork for years -- investigators found nearly 10,000kg of the bad pork in elementary schools, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls in Taipei City and County, Taichung City and County, and Taoyuan, Yunlin and Kaohsiung counties.

The Yunlin Prosecutor's Office found that some criminal groups are collecting the pork and six slaughterhouses in Yunlin are involved in the case. Investigators are tracking down their distribution networks.

The revelations have shocked the public.

Officials of departments of health in city and county governments have been running into meat markets to find problematic pork. Officials of health departments called on the public to buy pork with red appearance and elastic wrapping, and to not buy pork without knowing where it came from.

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