Chinese Pigs Fed Poisoned Milk Powder

July 19, 2011 9:02 pm Last Updated: October 1, 2015 4:11 pm
Pigs stand in their pens at a farm in Zhuji, east China's Zhejiang province last March. In a recent report it was found that farms were feeding contaminated milk powder to pigs which contained melamine.  (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Pigs stand in their pens at a farm in Zhuji, east China's Zhejiang province last March. In a recent report it was found that farms were feeding contaminated milk powder to pigs which contained melamine. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Though Chinese communist authorities swore to keep melamine out of the food chain after the milk powder scandal three years ago, where several infants died and hundreds of thousands were poisoned, recent reports from China indicate that pigs are now being infected.

An investigation by Chongqing Evening News says that, because of the cost and scarcity of sows’ milk, in some large-scale pig farms piglets are fed on milk powder to improve their nourishment.

And it was found that over two tons of tainted milk powder was used to feed suckling pigs in at least five pig farms around China. Some of the milk powder contained melamine levels 515 times higher than Chinese safety standards.

Inspectors were aware of the problems since last October, but did nothing, Chongqing Evening News said. It then took another eight months for the media to find out about and report on the case.

An example of how it happened is found in Tang, a businessman who started selling expired milk powder on the cheap. He imported about 6.75 tons of it from Hebei Province, despite knowing that it was contaminated melamine, and sold it to mills preparing animal feed in Chengdu and Chongqing. This was then sold to at least five pig farms.

Melamine is used by unscrupulous players in China because it can make the milk powder appear to have more protein in tests. The chemical is toxic to humans, however—particularly to infants.

Tang said that when he bought the powder he had asked whether it contained melamine. He was told, “Yes, a little bit, but not much.” He admitted to the Evening News that he didn’t find out for himself.

One of the buyers later got suspicious, given the ultra-low price and the fact that the pigs began showing symptoms of food poisoning. After buying five tons of the corrupted product, this buyer sent a sample for inspection.

On Oct. 1 last year the Chongqing Veterinary Medicine and Feed Inspection Authority examined the product and found that the milk powder contained amounts of melamine far exceeding the standards.

According to regulations, the upper limit for melamine content in milk is 2.5mg/kg. In the three samples, the content of melamine was found to be up to 1288.1 mg/kg, in the worst case exceeding the permissible level by 515 times.

Tang has now been arrested by the police.

Dr. Dong Guozhong from the College of Animal Science and Technology of Southwest University told Chongqing Evening News that animals are able to detoxify themselves in some circumstances. But it is a question of the amount and composition of the poison.

When there is incomplete or no detoxification, the poison enters the flesh and organs of the animal. Consumption of that meat can then result in food poisoning or related diseases.

In the wake of the Sanlu scandal over tainted infant milk powder in September of 2009, the authorities made great efforts to convince the public that all adulterated milk powder had been destroyed. But news of contaminated milk keeps cropping up.

Last October, over 230 tons of tainted milk powder was found circulating in Hebei, Shanxi, Tianjin, and Qinghai, leading to 47 arrests.

Many Chinese aren’t taking any more chances with domestic products for their babies, opting instead to shop overseas for food and other infant essentials.

Read the original Chinese article.

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