Pig offal poisons 43 more victims

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2000, 12:00am

Forty-three more people fell ill yesterday after eating pig offal, bringing the number affected since Thursday to 57.

The Health Department warned people to eat less of the offal, which is thought to have given them clenbuterol food poisoning.

Most of the 43 people involved, who are aged between one and 62, ate pig offal bought from markets in Tai Po and Sha Tin. Others bought it from markets in Yau Ma Tei and Tseung Kwan O. They have developed symptoms including tremors and palpitations.

The Health Department said seven people were still in hospital in stable condition. Officials were investigating suspected cases of clenbuterol food poisoning with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department yesterday.

Officials from the latter department inspected the fresh provisions shops concerned and confiscated pig offal. A Health Department spokesman warned people to use reputable retailers when buying offal and to eat less of it.

A Food and Environmental Hygiene Department spokesman pointed out that use of the asthma drug clenbuterol - to make pork lean - was banned. Pig farmers are subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and six months' jail if convicted of using it.

The chairman of the Hong Kong Pig Farm Association, Wong Kwong-wing, said most pig farmers had stopped using clenbuterol or other growth stimulants since the Government imposed the ban in 1998.

'But I have to admit that there are still bad farmers in our industry using these banned chemicals,' he said.