Three Plead Not Guilty in Tainted Pork Case

May 20, 2009 Updated: May 20, 2009

Three defendants pleaded not guilty in a tainted pork case in southern China in which 70 people fell ill, according to a Shanghai Daily report.

The report said that Deng Yungao, Liu Xunyao and Xiao Xueqing from central China’s Hunan Province, who were accused of selling pigs fed with clenbuterol, a banned feed additive, pleaded not guilty in Baiyun District People’s Court in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province on April 28, claiming no knowledge of the alleged chemical’s presence.

Deng rented a stand and sold live pigs at a market in Guangzhou’s Baiyun District beginning last October; Liu and Xiao were hired to work at the stand. Police raided the stand in the early hours of January 22 and seized 31 contaminated pigs.

Deng told the court he didn’t know the pigs from Hunan had been fed with clenbuterol and said they all passed the tests by both Guangzhou and Hunan authorities.

Deng, who has sold pigs for years, told the court he didn’t understand the difference between a normal pig and a pig fed with clenbuterol.

Prosecutors, however, said Deng had confessed several times that he could tell which pigs had been fed the chemical just by looking at them.

The report said the court ruling is expected soon.

According to a Nanfang Rural News report, the use of clenbuterol, also known as “shouroujing” (lean meat essence) is very common in many pig farms because it increases profits.

The report said some farmers begin feeding pigs with clenbuterol 15 to 20 days before they are sold. The drug can help save about one kilogram (kg) of feed even as it makes each animal gain 1 kg weight per day, leading to a profit as high as 275 percent.

However the chemical is harmful and sometimes even fatal to humans.

Guangzhou authorities, between February 10 and March 17, arrested 15 people connected with a clenbuterol-tainted pork case, which made 70 people sick.

One of the worst cases involving clenbuterol happened in Shanghai in September 2006 when over 330 people were hospitalized after eating pig meat or organs contaminated with the additive.

Read this article in Chinese.