22 held over illegal slaughterhouse
At least 22 people, including the owner, were detained in raids in connection with an illegal slaughterhouse on the outskirts of Shenzhen.
The slaughterhouse allegedly sold tens of thousands of tonnes of dead pigs to wet markets, food manufacturers, factories and school canteens in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Dongguan and Huizhou. Police said at least one suspect remained at large.
The raids occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday in Shenzhen's Guangming district - a week after an earlier raid in which pork was seized from the site and the slaughterhouse was ordered closed, but then secretly reopened.
District authorities said yesterday they had suspended and were investigating several officials from the district's law enforcement team, including its leader, for allegedly protecting the slaughterhouse, The Southern Metropolis News reports. The officials were said to have warned the slaughterhouse before the raids.
Authorities said the slaughterhouse would buy dead or sick pigs from farmers cheaply, then bleach the pork to make it appear similar to that of healthy, freshly killed pigs.
The pork was sold at a high price to nearby wet markets and food manufacturers, including in Guangming and nearby sub-districts of Shenzhen and Dongguan.
In Tuesday's raid, police seized 46 dead pigs, 12 cars and 40,000 yuan (HK$49,250).
Unnamed whistle-blowers were cited by The Southern Metropolis News as saying that up to 100 sick and dead pigs, or more than 10 tonnes of pork, was sold daily to buyers from Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guangzhou and Huizhou. It wasn't clear how long the slaughterhouse had been operating.
An 80-year-old woman who lives next to the site told the newspaper that she had seen cars carrying sick or dead pigs every day, and she never heard pigs cry during the killing process.
'We don't dare eat pork from them. We are forced to travel far away to buy safe pork,' the woman was quoted as saying.
The newspaper said industrial insiders estimate that about 25 to 40 per cent of pork available in Shenzhen markets is produced by illegal slaughterhouses, as the city's 17 registered slaughterhouses can supply only 12,000 to 15,000 pigs every day - which does not meet demand by the city's nearly 14 million residents.
The city had 28 registered slaughterhouses in 1992, but the number dropped to 17 this year, while the population is four times as large as it was 20 years ago.