Thursday, December 1, 2011


My previous post (the one before last) discussed the case of pigs in China being fed with a carconigenic chemical to make the meat leaner, so they could fetch a better price. According to news reports, the production and marketing of the chemical concerned - clenbuterol hydrochloride - had been ongoing for about 4 years (2007-2011) before this frightening practice was discovered.

At least 36 pork producers in eight provinces were caught using it and charged. But there are food safety professionals in China who suggest that there were many more - maybe even the majority of pig farmers who were using it.

And it wasn't government inspectors or officials who blew the whistle. According to China Central Television (CCTV) the clenbuterol was detected by a subsidiary company of Shuanghui Group, China's largest meat processor. This company paid a heavy price for the discovery - losses of about 100 million yuan a day after the reports surfaced. In some regions of China the group's products were taken off the shelves and elsewhere, customers stopped buying them for a while.

But this company also exports frozen food all over the world - various pork products, other meats, and frozen fruit and vegetables (check its website). Because of the huge scale of its operations, it most likely sources its pork from several suppliers, not all of which may do such good testing. Also, the practice of the company prior to this scandal (now changed) was to only require inspection of pigs at random - not every single pig it accepted for processing. This means that many got through without being caught.

What we don't know then, is whether some of this "carcinogenic pork" has been exported during the last four years, and may, in fact, have landed on our table if we bought Shuanghui frozen pork products, though through no fault of the company itself. There was no way we ourselves could have known by looking at or smelling the products.

To your good health,



C.M. Doran said...

You need a twitter and FB share button under your posts....would like to share this one, and will, but would be easier with the buttons. Thanks for writing...I enjoyed your book, and will post a review of it this year on my website.

TSF said...

Thanks for the comment and the suggestion.
Will do!