Pui Pui exposes fake trade in crocodile meat

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 December, 2006, 12:00am

The city's most famous reptile, Pui Pui, has proved instrumental in determining that up to 90 per cent of dried crocodile meat on sale is fake, prompting calls for legislation to crack down on unscrupulous Chinese medicine sellers.

Pui Pui's blood was used in tests by Chinese University scientists to compare real crocodile DNA with the dried meat used to treat asthma, proving that most of it is snake or lizard.

'Hong Kong should have a responsible legislative arrangement and enforcement measures,' said Paul But Pui-hay of the biology department who carried out the study.

The scientists bought 11 samples of crocodile meat from large stores and small retailers and found just one was genuine. The others came from monitor lizards, while samples taken from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department were snake.

None of the samples contained anything toxic or dangerous, but Professor But said: 'Most of the people who use this are weak, senile or suffering from asthma. If they use something else that doesn't carry the desired medicinal effects, they may be delaying their treatment, and that can be serious as asthma can lead to death.'

Medical sector legislator Kwok Ka-ki said the government was dragging its feet on a law making it illegal to sell mislabelled or fake Chinese medicine products.