Chinese slaughterhouse staff force-feed cattle with water for 12 hours to artificially increase their weight
- Worker tells TV crew pumping water through animals’ nostrils added only ‘five to 10 kilos’ (11 to 22 pounds) to the animals’ weight
- The method increased the risk of contamination and yet the meat was mostly sold to school canteens
Staff at two slaughterhouses in east China have been accused of animal cruelty after a broadcaster revealed that cattle there were pumped with water for up to 12 hours to artificially increase their weight.
Police arrested 29 people at the two sites in Anhui province on Friday, Jiangsu TV reported on Tuesday. Video showed cattle at the slaughterhouses in Quanjiao and Laian counties, outside Nanjing, with plastic tubes in their nostrils. Some of the animals had toppled over, water streaming from their bodies.
A worker at Quanjiao said pumping the cattle with water only added “five to 10 kilograms” to their weight at most. The method also increased the risk of contamination. Most of the meat was sold for use in schools.
The manager of the Quanjiao slaughterhouse told police that the cattle were to be slaughtered anyway, so pumping them with water did not matter.
Early in November, undercover journalists found that the meat was sold in wholesale markets in Nanjing for as little as 30 yuan (US$4.33) per kilogram, with much of it going to school canteens.
They traced the meat to the slaughterhouses, where they filmed several cattle chained to a railing while tubes pumped water into their nostrils.
When the tubes were taken out, water spurted from the animals’ noses.
Workers at the Quanjiao slaughterhouse told an undercover journalist that they would start pumping the cattle with water 12 hours before they were to be slaughtered, to increase their weight.
The process not only damaged the nutritional value and quality of the beef, but also increased the risk of contamination from dirty water.
“We find it hard to watch the animals as well, we do not want to do it,” a worker at Quanjiao said on video.
After the police raid, staff at the Laian slaughterhouse admitted they used the water pipes to increase the animals’ weight. “The boss told us to remove the pipes if anyone ever knocked on the door,” a worker told police.
But the manager of the Laian slaughterhouse denied the allegations, claiming that the water pipes were to cleanse the cattle’s stomachs.
According to the report, the slaughterhouses had moved to rural Anhui from Nanjing after police discovered they were operating illegally there.
Chinese social media users reacted with fury and accused the slaughterhouses of animal cruelty.
“This scene is one I really cannot stand to watch. Every animal has a spirit, how horrible,” read one top-rated comment on Weibo, China’s Twitter.
“If you have to kill the animals, just kill them and make it straightforward,” said another user.
Authorities have closed down more than 25 pork abattoirs since the start of this year as swine flu has swept across some provinces.