BEIJING, March 28 (Xinhua) -- China's Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) said on Monday that the government would launch a one-year crackdown on illegal additives in pig feed which have proven to be toxic to humans.
The announcement came after a subsidiary of Shuanghui Group, China's largest meat producer, was exposed this month for using clenbuterol-contaminated pork in its meat products.
The campaign would also involve the Food Safety Commission Office under the State Council, or Cabinet, as well as ministries of information and technology, public security, commerce, and health, along with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, and the State Food and Drug Administration.
The illegal production, selling and use of clenbuterol, a fat-burning chemical, would be severely punished, and measures would be taken to block clenbuterol-tainted pork from entering the market, according to the MOA.
The campaign would also focus on the monitoring of pig-raising and other steps in pork supply chains, such as purchasing and slaughtering, to ensure safety of pork products.
A total of 72 people in central Henan Province, where Shuanghui is based, have been taken into police custody for allegedly producing, selling or using clenbuterol, Henan provincial government said in a statement on Monday.
About 18 tonnes of pig feed that were suspected of having clenbuterol were confiscated by the authorities during a province-wide check that lasted from March 15 to 23, said the statement.
Henan's supervision authorities also investigated 53 officials and government workers for alleged dereliction of duty, said the statement.
Clenbuterol is fed to pigs to stop them from accumulating fat. It is banned as pig feed in China because it is poisonous to humans, if ingested.