Twelve people have been jailed by the Higher People’s Court in Fujian Province for their involvement in the sale of meat from sick and dead pigs.
According to Shanghai Daily, the pork meat received quarantine and inspection stamps after multiple officials were bribed, which enabled it to make its way to food companies and restaurants alike.
Sentences for the offenders ranged from 30 months to 16 years in jail.
Under Chinese law, it is illegal to sell pigs that have died from disease for consumption. The Chinese government sustains that such pigs must be disposed of in an ‘environmentally friendly’ way.
However, farmers are deterred from disposing of disease-ridden pigs due to the sheer cost of ‘proper disposal’.
In Longyan, a major pig breeding base in the province, farmers must pay 200 yuan to rightfully dispose of the animals. However, the government only subsidises these farmers with 80 yuan for proper disposal.
Consequently, most farmers seek out alternative measures to dispose of the animals, preferring to sell their pigs illegally to ‘dodgy dealers’ or even to simply throw them into nearby rivers (made evident during the horrific “hog wash” in Shanghai two years ago).
The court heard that a group led by Lin Shen and Lai Jianhua purchased the sick and dead pigs and proceeded to sell the pork meat illegally for 12.43 million yuan (2 million USD).
Another group led by Zhang Zhiqiang made 43 million yuan by renting licensed slaughter houses to butcher such pigs.
Lin, Lai and Zhang sold the illegal pork meat in other cities in Fujian and also in the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Sichuan, Hunan and Guangdong.
Food health and safety remains a growing issue in China, especially concerning the production of sustainable pork meat.
By Freya Twigden