A gang allegedly processed duck meat with highly toxic additives and then sold it as mutton to restaurants in China before police arrested them, state-run media reported.
In all, 34 people were arrested and more than 40 tons of tainted meat, 10 tons of suet, 500 pounds of additives, and around 30 million yuan ($4.8 million) were seized by the authorities, reported the Beijing Times. The cache was discovered at a factory, owned by a man with the surname Lee, in Liaoning Province, located in northeastern China.
When police searched the factory, duck meat was found soaked in a stew of chemicals and mutton fat, along with other additives, the state-run China Daily reported.
The meat contained massive amounts of sodium nitrite--more than 2,000 times the legal limit--which can react with amines and amides to form highly carcinogenic compounds, and also contained heavy metals. Some 8.69 grams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) sodium nitrite was found in the soaked duck meat, according to the China Daily.
The report said that ingesting 3 grams of sodium nitrite can kill an adult.
The market value of mutton is approximately 33 to 50 yuan ($8) per kilogram, which is higher than the price of duck meat. The gang sold fake mutton at less than half the market price to small and medium-sized restaurants, who were stocking up for the impending Chinese New Year, reported the Central News Agency, a state-run media entity.
“It’s a well-known secret in the industry. Real mutton is too expensive. We can’t earn money if we use genuine meat,” Li Chenquan, who runs a restaurant in Shenyang, told the newspaper.
The suspects in the case sold more than a ton of the tainted meat to restaurants and distributors, Chinese state radio reported.
A local government spokesperson, Yu Shaoming, told the Daily that “the factory has a legitimate license, but they do underground production,” and while authorities have gone to the factory to investigate, they “didn’t find any violations.”
“They are very cunning,” he added.
Police have warned the public to be on the lookout for mutton that is sold below standard prices.
The seizure of the tainted duck meat is yet another black mark on China’s beleaguered food industry.In recent years, food scandals involving tainted milk products, toxic chemicals being fed to chickens, gutter oil, and others have drawn criticism from the Chinese public.
Read the original Chinese article.
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