Officials dismiss SMS warnings on safety of beef imports

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2012, 3:17am

Text messages telling people to stop eating beef have gone viral in Hong Kong, but authorities say the claims are false and that imported beef is entirely safe.

The messages say 570 cattle infected with anthrax were transported to Suzhou , Jiangsu province, from Liaoning province. One quotes a source as saying an urgent meeting has been called in Suzhou over the matter. "Don't eat any beef or beef products for the time being," it warns.

Mainland authorities dismissed the messages, while the sole local beef distributor, Ng Fung Hong, said it did not import beef from Suzhou or Liaoning.

An unidentified official with the Suzhou Food Safety Committee's general office told the People's Daily that an investigation had found no cattle, or beef products, were transported from areas where an anthrax outbreak was reported. And no anthrax was detected from inspections of cattle mentioned in the texts.

Bao Changjun, deputy head of the acute epidemic prevention centre of the Jiangsu Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, said there had been no outbreak of anthrax as a result of anyone eating cooked beef products.

In August, two people in Lianyungang , Jiangsu, and seven in Shenyang , Liaoning, were infected with the potentially fatal illness. They recovered after treatment.