Hong Kong’s health minister has issued a public apology after pork contaminated with anti-asthma drugs was sent to 27 retailers around the city.
A total of 319 pigs, exported from Jianxi province in mainland China last week, were found to contain traces of Clenbuterol and Salbutamol, illegal food additives that artificially enhance animal growth and promote leanness. If consumed, the drugs can cause some people to experience heart palpitations, dizziness, headaches, anxiety and trembling.
The government has admitted that there were failings in the system after 40 of the contaminated pigs were mistakenly allowed to enter the food chain, despite having already tested positive for the drugs. The remaining animals were all culled.
Around 3,500kg of meat was confiscated from retailers around the city over the weekend, including market stalls and supermarkets. Officers from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) poured disinfectant over the meat before taking it away.
Many vendors were upset after their names were added to a publicly-available list of affected outlets, despite them having never bought meat from the distributor in question, expressing concern that the scandal will damage their reputations.
Mainland authorities have now placed a ban on all farms in Jianxi province from exporting pigs to Hong Kong.