Meat Safety Boosted for Spring Festival16 January 2012
CHINA - The government will redouble its efforts to weed out illegal meat processing in the coming months, especially during the Spring Festival, in the interest of food safety, officials said on Friday.
"The Spring Festival holiday (which begins on 23 January) usually sees increased meat consumption, but it is also a period of potential meat safety problems," Jiang Zengwei, vice-minister of commerce, said in a news conference held by six government departments including the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The six departments began a 10-month campaign to crack down on illegal meat slaughtering and processing in October after the illegal pig feed additive clenbuterol was reportedly used by farmers in Henan province in March.
Mr Zengwei said that the authorities will increase their efforts to ensure meat safety during the Spring Festival because "meat is an essential part of people's diet, and meat safety is of great concern to the public."
Yu Kangzhen, chief veterinarian of the Ministry of Agriculture, said the slaughtering and processing are "the key to meat safety before it reaches consumers."
"The focus of the crackdown will lie on cleaning up illegal slaughterhouses and processors in rural and suburban areas, and areas with clusters of producers, where substandard meat, including water-injected meat and the meat of sick animals, is often found," Mr Zengwei said.
China has more than 18,000 slaughterhouses and processors, and the authorities will be stricter in examining and quarantining meat before it reaches the market, Jiang said.
The government will strictly regulate the approval of new slaughterhouses. Applications will be denied for companies that process fewer than 200,000 pigs or sheep, 50,000 cows or 20 million fowl annually, according to the 12th Five-Year Plan for the Food Industry, jointly published by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Friday.
Meanwhile, large slaughterhouses and processing companies will be encouraged and 10 giant meat processing businesses with a market value higher than 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) will be built by 2015, under the plan.
Fu Shuangjian, vice-minister of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, said the authority will improve the market access of meat suppliers while standardizing the qualification of processors.
The goal of weeding out illegal processing is to ensure that the meat supply in all cities comes from authorized processors by June 2012, and in all towns by the end of 2012, Mr Zengwei said.
Jiangsu province, where the pork additive scandal caused a sensation in March, has seized more than 6,400 kilograms of substandard pork since the campaign started in October, according to Sun Liancai, deputy head of the Jiangsu Administration for Industry and Commerce. In addition, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region seized more than 72,000 kg of problematic pork since July 2011, according to Xiong Jiajun, deputy head of the region's department of commerce.
The six government departments also encourage the public to report illegal meat producers to local or central supervising authorities through the telephone hotline: 12315.
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