Sat, Dec 23, 2006 - Page 3 News List

DOH steps up asphalt inspections

FOWL MEASURES Action was taken following media reports about the illegal use of the potentially carcinogenic substance to remove duck feathers

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The Department of Health (DOH) has set up an inspection team with the Council of Agriculture to check on underground poultry slaughterhouses and traders that use asphalt to remove duck feathers, a DOH official said yesterday.

The DOH has also instructed local health authorities to step up raids on slaughterhouses and traders to stop the use of the toxic material in poultry processing, according to Chen Shu-kung (陳樹功), head of the DOH's Bureau of Food Sanitation.

The DOH made the move in the wake of media reports on the use of asphalt by some unscrupulous poultry processors to remove duck feathers.

The chemical residue left on the duck skin is potentially harmful to consumers' health and can cause cancer.

Noting licensed slaughterhouses usually use resin-based feather removal gels, Chen said the use of asphalt violates slaughter sanitation regulations.

While selecting duck products, consumers should check if there are any black spots or asphalt smell on them to ensure the safety of the products, Chen said.

Also yesterday, a group of local duck farmers led by the Republic of China Ducks Organization held a news conference in Taichung to claim that they have never used asphalt to remove duck feathers.

They pointed out that asphalt is not an ideal feather removal material because it can damage the skin of the birds.

Protesting the media reports, the farmers said duck sales have declined 50 percent as a result, affecting their livelihoods.

Meanwhile, Yuan Chih-chieh, deputy chief of the Taichung branch office of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, assured consumers that no licensed slaughterhouses in the country use asphalt to remove duck feathers.

Yuan said there are three licensed duck slaughterhouses in the Taichung area and urged consumers to select duck products from these licensed slaughterhouses.

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