China pork crisis: ‘model slaughterhouse’ accused of processing dead and diseased pigs

Zhuang Pinghui

A slaughterhouse in southern China that was held up as a model business has been closed down after a television exposé suggested it had been illegally processing pork from dead and sick pigs that ended up on sale to the public.

Police and market regulators in Foshan, Guangdong province, stormed Nanhai Heyi Slaughterhouse on Sunday to investigate allegations made in a programme broadcast on Saturday by Guangdong Radio and Television.

The slaughterhouse – which in September had been referred to as an example enterprise for pig slaughter by the province’s agriculture department – was ordered to close and members of staff were taken away by police.

An inspection of all pig slaughterhouses in the Nanhai district had also been ordered, the broadcaster reported.

Its undercover reporter claimed to have been approached at the slaughterhouse by a pig dealer who offered to sell him two dead pigs for 300 yuan (US$43) each. He said he then witnessed another dead pig being processed and butchered, before being marked as having been inspected and cleared for sale, and transported out of the slaughterhouse.

During another visit, according to the programme, a man was seen paying 1,000 yuan and 500 yuan for two dead pigs. When the man asked for the dead pigs to be processed by the slaughterhouse, he was initially refused permission, only for the staff to agree to it after he paid them a bribe of at least 100 yuan, the report stated.

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The butchered pork, which appeared redder than the rest, was then seen being stamped to suggest it had been inspected, the reporter said. The van transporting this pork, which the reporter followed, took it to a wet market in the Huangpu district in Guangzhou, 60km (37 miles) away, where it was delivered to two pork stalls, according to the report.

“See the fresh pork. It’s still warm,” one stall owner was filmed saying when trying to sell the pork to undercover reporters.

The slaughterhouse was also accused of selling dead pigs that had been sick and should have been destroyed. Some parts of pigs that had died from disease or had been dead for too long to be legally sold were moved to a cart to be burned, but other parts were moved into vans to be sold, the reporters alleged.

A reporter said they saw two vans with Guangdong number plates arrive at the slaughterhouse, stay for an hour and leave with some of the pork.

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The report comes as pork prices in China have soared to record levels after outbreaks of African swine fever cut a swathe through the nation’s hog herd – by as much as half, according to some estimates.

It was not established whether the diseased pigs found in the report had been diagnosed with African swine fever.

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