BEIJING, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Detection of the toxic additive clenbuterol in pig feed has once again undermined Chinese consumers' confidence in the country's food producers.
The Chinese government is serious about the scandal. The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) announced that it will cooperate with eight ministries and commissions to launch a one-year crackdown on illegal additives in pig feed which have proven to be toxic to humans.
In big cities, like Chengdu and Nanjing, contaminated products from the food company suspected to be involved in the scandal have been soon moved off the shelves in supermarkets.
Some provinces have ordered that slaughterhouses should check their products everyday to avoid unsafe meat to be sold to the public.
Wan Long, Chief Executive Officer with the Henan-based Shuanghui Group, China's largest meat producer involved in the clenbuterol event, apologized last week.
Wan admitted the company's mistake and disclosed at a meeting that the scandal had so far cost the company more than 12.1 billion yuan (about 1.85 billion U.S. dollars).
The government hopes that all these efforts would produce some results in saving consumers' confidence.
Pork is the most popular meat in China. Each year more than 600 million pigs are harvested, according to Wang Zongli, vice director of the husbandry office in the Ministry of Agriculture.
Statistics from the China Animal Agriculture Association (CAAA) show that in 2009, pork accounted for 65 percent of the meat consumed by Chinese.
Clenbuterol, a poisonous chemical that can reduce a pig's body fat to produce lean meat, was found in meat products from Jiyuan Shuanghui Food Co., Ltd last month.
Experts said that the chemical is very harmful to people's health, as it might cause cancer and other diseases.
Li Peitang from Dayi County of southwest China's Sichuan Province has been raising pigs for more than 10 years, and now owns a pig farm with 3,000 hogs, making 1 to 2 million yuan a year.
"I heard of the trick before to feed pigs clenbuterol," he said.
Clenbuterol is very cheap and using it can reduce a pig's fat by 10 percent, Li says.
"Lean pork fetches 1.6 yuan higher per kilogram than fattier cuts," he said.
"The scandal will hit the meat industry hard," said Qiao Yufeng, vice chairman of the CAAA.