A dead pig floats on the river Monday, March 11, 2013 on the outskirts of Shanghai, China. A recent surge in the dumping of dead pigs upstream from Shanghai has followed a police campaign to curb the illicit trade in sick pig parts.
A surge in the dumping of dead pigs upstream from Shanghai - with
more than 2,800 carcasses floating into the financial hub through Monday
- has followed a police campaign to curb the illicit trade in sick pig
The effort to keep infected pork off dinner tables may be
fueling new health fears, as Shanghai residents and local media fret
over the possibility of contamination to the city's water supply, though
authorities say no contamination has been detected.
have been pulling out the swollen and rotting pigs, some with their
internal organs visible, since Friday - and revolting images of the
carcasses in news reports and online blogs have raised public ire
against local officials.
"Well, since there supposedly is no
problem in drinking this water, please forward this message, if you
agree, to ask Shanghai's party secretary, mayor and water authority
leaders if they will be the first ones to drink this meat soup?" lawyer
Gan Yuanchun said on his verified microblog.
On Monday, Shanghai officials said the number of dumped adult and
piglet carcasses retrieved had reached 2,813. The city government,
citing monitoring authorities, said the drinking water quality has not
Shanghai's Agriculture Committee said authorities
don't know what caused the pigs to die, but that they have detected a
sometimes-fatal pig disease in at least one of the carcasses. The
disease is associated with the porcine circovirus, which is widespread
in pigs but doesn't affect humans or other livestock.
city government said initial investigations had found the dead pigs had
come from Jiaxing city in Zhejiang province. It said it had not found
any major epidemic.
Huang Beibei, a lifetime resident of
Shanghai, was the first to expose the problem when he took photos of the
carcasses and uploaded them onto his microblog on Thursday.
"This is the water we are drinking," Huang wrote. "What is the government doing to address this?"
His graphic photos apparently caught the attention of local reporters, who followed up.
Huang said he's most concerned about water safety. "Though the
government says the water is safe, at least I do not believe it - given
the number of the pigs in the river. These pigs have died from disease,"
The dumping follows a crackdown on the illegal trade in contaminated pork.
China, pigs that have died from disease should be either incinerated or
buried, but some unscrupulous farmers and animal control officials have
sold problematic carcasses to slaughterhouses. The pork harvested from
such carcasses has ended up in markets. As a food safety problem, it has
drawn attention from China's Ministry of Public Security, which has
made it a priority to crack down on gangs that purchase dead or sick
pigs and process them for illegal profits.
Zhejiang police said on their official website that police have been
campaigning to crack down on pork meat harvested from sick pigs and that
the efforts were stepped up this winter as Chinese families gathered to
celebrate the Lunar New Year in February.
In one operation last
year in a village in the city of Jiaxing in neighboring Zhejiang
province police stamped out a criminal gang that acquired and
slaughtered diseased pigs. The provincial authorities said police
arrested 12 suspects and confiscated nearly 12 tons of tainted pork
"Ever since the police have stepped up efforts to crack
down on the illicit market of sick pigs since last year, no one has come
here to buy dead pigs, and the problem of pig dumping is worse than
ever this year," an unnamed villager told the Jiaxing Daily newspaper,
which is run by the local Communist Party.
Wang Xianjun, a government worker for Zhulin village, told the newspaper that villagers were breeding too many pigs.
said the village had 10,078 dead pigs in January and another 8,325 in
February. "We have limited land in the village," he said. "We do not
have that much land for burial."
"We know there is some illegal
trade in sick and dead pigs in some places of China," said Zheng
Fengtian, a professor at the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural
Development at Renmin University in Beijing.
"According to the
law, dead pigs must be burned or buried, but if there is not enough
regulatory monitoring, it's possible some of them will be sold into the
market at low prices," he said, adding that it isn't known how serious
the problem is.