Consumers find it impossible recognise poisoned pork products
After carrying out a recent inspection, the department said increasing numbers of meat samples in the country were contaminated by Beta-adrenoceptor agonists or β-agonists, which have been banned from usage for over a decade due to health concerns.
According to the department, up to 26% of meat samples at slaughter-houses nationwide contain β-agonists.
As many as 43% of urine samples at animal farms revealed positive traces of β-agonists, the department noted.
The inspection results have shaken the country’s husbandry industry and food safety experts.
“Using toxic substances during animal raising not only means violating the country’s regulations but is a crime. Profit-takers have been poisoning millions of consumers,” MARD Minister Cao Duc Phat admitted.
Experts have found out that more and more animal farms have opted to use toxic substances to quickly multiply their profits. Most of the cases were recorded in southern localities, especially Dong Nai and Binh Duong provinces and HCM City.
Even though Vietnam has banned using β-agonists for over a decade, enforcement is still far from adequate as authorities have yet to take drastic measure to heighten the efficiency of their checks.
Authorities in Dong Nai Province have detected several cases involving the illegal transportation and use of toxic substances in the husbandry industry.
In early 2012, a local man was caught red-handed while transporting five kilos of Salbutamol.
Three other households have been recently found feeding their animals with β-agonists.
Ironically, local police were compelled to release the violators after only being able levy a fine of just VND6.5 million (USD311.45).
Nguyen Xuan Duong, Deputy Director of the Animal Health Department, said, “The lack of strict sanctions has hindered authorities from dealing with such cases. There have been contradictory policies pursued when dealing with confiscated substances in HCM City, Binh Duong and Dong Nai. Some say the poisoned animals should be destroyed immediately while others recommend seizing the substandard animals for between seven and ten days before destroying and then allowing the farm to resume operations.”
According to Duong, pigs contaminated with β-agonists should be entirely destroyed and more strict penalties should be applied to farms in a bid to heighten deterrent methods and ensure consumer safety.
Phat, however, requested the Departments of Livestock Husbandry, and Animal Health to expand their inspections to more localities across the country in order to intensify the campaign.
In the time to come, the ministry will discuss with the Ministry of Health to ban toxic substances such as β-agonists.