Forty-six people in China’s southern province of Guangdong have suffered food poisoning after eating pig organs that contained an animal feed additive, the official Xinhua news agency said Feb. 19.
All those who fell sick had eaten pig organs, said Wang Guobin, an official with the Guangzhou Municipal Public Health Bureau. Initial investigations showed the organs were contaminated with clenbuterol.
The chemical can stop pigs accumulating fat and can be used by humans as a weight loss aid and to help ease breathing disorders. It is banned as an additive in pig feed in China.
China has launched a crackdown on tainted food following the deaths of at least six babies last year from drinking formula milk contaminated with melamine, a toxic industrial compound.
The U. S. country-of-origin rule will go ahead as scheduled, but with strong suggestions that meat processors follow additional voluntary labelling practices.
U. S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the COOL rule will take effect March 16. But he is asking the industry to add extra details on meat labels.
Those include: labelling every package of meat as to where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered; labelling processed foods; having labels list the name of a country for up to 10 days instead of 60, as allowed by the rule. Vilsack said USDA will follow voluntary industry compliance closely.
“Depending on this performance, I will carefully consider whether modifications to the rule will be necessary to achieve the intent of Congress,” he said in his Feb. 20 letter.
John Masswohl, a Canadian Cattlemen’s Association spokesperson, called Vilsack’s request “a very negative backwards move.”
Masswohl said CCA may consider asking Ottawa to revive a World Trade Organization challenge against COOL.