Pig farmers raise stink over quarantine rules

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 July, 2001, 12:00am

Updated at 6.15pm:
About 80 local pig farmers on Monday denounced quarantine procedures which they said favoured foreign importers and could lead to health scares.

Chilled pork from Thailand should subject to the same tests as local meat, the Hong Kong Livestock Industrial Association said.

The authority should step up the quarantine procedures and conducts tests even if the imported meat bore overseas health certificate, said Ng To-wing, committee of the group.

''Since 84, there had been cases where imported pork infected with clenbuterol [the so-called asthma drug] was consumed by the public, but the authority did not step up the quarantine procedures,'' he said.

He called for the authority to keep track of imported chilled pork from Thailand and local pork meat, to avoid them being were mixed up in the delivery process.

''A record of pork should be kept, so that we know to which local stalls they were dispatched. If problem arises, at least the whole local industry does not have to take the blame. This is fairer and will protect consumer rights,'' he said.

According to a spokesperson from Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, pork imports were required to carry a health certificate from the country of origin and random tests are carried out.

An amendment to public health ordinance was proposed at Legco on Monday. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department called for a ban of seven chemicals, including clenbuterol, which carry an immediate health risk. And a maximum residue level of 37 chemicals in offals, meat and milk was set. Both Retailers and distributors would have to comply with the new law.