Two beef wholesalers that were found to have pumped water into cattle carcasses to increase the weight of the beef are to face a fine of NT$150,000 each, while whether they made other illegal profits is to be further investigated by prosecutors, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday.
The council’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said that after talking on Friday with the owners of the Fubo Slaughterhouse — where the illegal practice was witnessed — and beef wholesalers Shang Hao (上豪) and Shun Fa (順發) — who allegedly performed the water pumping — the bureau decided to fine the two companies for one case each, in line with the Animal Industry Act (畜牧法).
The Chinese-language Apple Daily reported that its reporters on four occasions witnessed workers allegedly pumping water into carcasses, but the bureau said it can only confirm two clear cases from the video filmed by the paper.
Measures will be enforced to ensure the nation’s meat safety, including increased inspections and surveillance camera monitoring, the bureau said, having officials make inspections without warning, enhancing training for inspectors, asking slaughterhouses to install surveillance cameras, with laws to enforce heavier punishments.
According to Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan director Chen Yu-ming (陳玉敏), the council spent about NT$380 million on meat inspections each year, including recruiting 580 inspectors and surveillance camera maintenance in slaughterhouses since 2012.
A further NT$65 million was spent subsidizing the nation’s beef industry between 2007 and 2011, and 283 inspections have been made since illegal practices at Fubo Slaughterhouse were reported two years ago. Yet the group said companies and inspectors still do not value animal welfare and meat safety.
Chen questioned whether the monitoring system malfunctioned, because it “could not see” the illegal practices, with the government instead relying on civic groups or the media to uncover the incidents.