| A farmer in central Quang Nam Province's Tam Ky City. Some pigs have been fed banned chemicals to reduce their fat. |
Last February, officials found beta-Agonists, a banned lean meat enhancing drug in some pig-rearing households in Dong Nai. Northern Hung Yen province is about 2,000km far from this province but the "lean meat" story soon affected Le Van Ha, owner of a pig farm in the area.
Before the bad news, Ha sold 50 tonnes of pork to the market each month, but he could no longer keep up that figure. Ha, whose farm was found to have no poisonous fodder, said he lost about VND500,000-700,000 (US$25-35) for each 100 kilos of pork since the news.
Nguyen Thanh Son, deputy chairman of the Husbandry Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Agriculture Development (MARD), said the price of pork had been reduced by 10 or 15 per cent in the southern region since the news. If the trend continued, he added, farmers would not raise pigs, and therefore, pork prices would go up again, troubling the market.
In the last two years, Son's department found no poisonous fodder in the concentrated husbandry farms in their regular checking tours. Son confirmed that the banned powder was found in some pig-raising households in Dong Nai.
Son's counterpart Nguyen Xuan Duong, said it was possible for his department to control the nearly 20,000 concentrated husbandry farms, but it was difficult to check all the 7 million small pig-raising households in Vietnam.
Consumer Pham Thi Lan in Nguyen Chi Thanh Street of Hanoi said the best way to avoid toxic meat was exercising caution. Lan said to "never buy the too lean meat with an unusual colour," adding "don't buy pork sold with too thin skin and too little or no fat."
Husbandry deputy chairman Son advised people not to be overly concerned as not all the pork was infected with the poisonous fodder. Son said "Viet Nam has many good pigs, up to 64 per cent lean. Consumers should buy pork from registered producers."