Chinese stir-fry over PIGS and WINGS

Even if you are a pork lover who can’t resist your daily dose of scrambled eggs and bacon, or a leg of ham, or that mouth watering delicacy roast suckling pig, if you are in China, it’s a  good time to be vegetarian.

Dead pigs continue to surface in rivers, a month and a half  after as many as 16,000 of them were found in Shanghai’s Huang Po river, an important source of water supply to the city .

Since then, 250 kilogrammes of fish in a suburban Shanghai river; a thousand ducks in a Sichuan river, and last but not the least five out of 13 beautiful blacks swans in a pond in Anhui University, have surfaced dead.

Now, bird flu has just claimed eight lives.

Yet, say the authorities, don’t worry, be happy!

The water of every water-body in which carcasses have been found has been declared safe. The dead pigs in Shanghai (and Hunan now) were found have been diseased, but they did not contaminate the water around them, say the authorities .

Obviously, shanghai residents are sceptical, even though one official has offered to drink the river water in public. Those who can afford to have started buying bottled water in supermarkets.

How do the people cope? Almost all Chinese eat meat if they can afford it, and, today, most can. Of all kinds of meat, pork is the favourite.

But no report till now suggests that shanghaiists have stopped eating it, except for some expats.

Indeed, though they are revolted by the episode, residents are also relieved that the dead pigs didn’t find their way to their tables –as, apparently, has been happening till now.   

Red alert

A CCTV expose after the carcasses surface showed that for years, diners have been eating meat from dead pigs. In fact, the shanghai catastrophe happened because of the government’s crackdown on sale of dead pigs, while implementing amended food safety law last year.

One dealer now in jail boasted that his arrest was the reason the carcasses have been dumped in the river.

 For eight year, he bought dead pigs from pig farmers in Jiaxing, a city close to shanghai, known as a pig-production centre, and sold them to meet processors.

Last year, three such dealers arrested in Jiaxing were sentenced to life. Pig farmers, who have traditionally been dumping dead animals in rivers, are back to doing the same, but in much larger quantities.

The government pays pig farmer 80 yuan per dead pig to have it disposed of hygienically-either buried deep under ground or put in an incinerator. It also provides incentives for pig farmers to install incinerators.

But there are thousands of small private farmers whom the government can’t reach. As for the bird flu, that’s almost an annual occurrence.

Just avoid wet markets (shanghai, Nanjing and some other cities have already closed there poultry markets), cook your bird at high temperatures, and wash your hands, is the attitude. A cute little jingle has been made that shows a child singing out instructions on how to avoid bird flu, “since we haven’t yet found a cure.” At any rate , chicken is not the favourite meat here.

While the dead pigs are being seen as an unforeseen outcome of a necessary crackdown, people are angry at the opacity of the government.

Even the official news agency, Xinhua, has written a strong piece on the lessons the authorities should have learnt from the 2003 Sars outbreak. Calling the shanghai government “immature “, it points out that there was no convincing official explanation for the emergence of the carcasses. Then, the fist two bird flu deaths were admitted to three weeks after they occurred.

”The last 10 years have thought the government a lot, but it is far from enough, “says Xinhua.

Opaque it may be, but the government is quick to act.

Dismissing fears that pollution had turned well water in Hubei red overnight, the head of the local environment protection bureau said that even washing red beans in water turns it red.

He was fired within days.      

     

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Posted by on April 29, 2013. Filed under Breaking News,China,SOUTH-ASIA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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