HONG KONG - Following up on a case early last month in which urine samples from pigs supplied from a farm in San Tin, Yuen Long, tested positive for the prohibited veterinary drug chloramphenicol, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has completed testing of further samples taken from that farm and all samples tested negative for chloramphenicol.
On November 4, some of the urine samples from a batch of 20 locally supplied pigs at the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse were found to contain chloramphenicol. Ten further urine samples from the same batch of pigs were taken, and one was found to contain chloramphenicol.
The batch of 20 pigs at the Slaughterhouse was withheld and destroyed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department after test results for chloramphenicol were confirmed.
The AFCD has since suspended the farm concerned from supplying pigs to the market, and is considering prosecuting the farm for committing an offence under the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Chemical Residues) Regulation (Cap 139N).
The AFCD conducted a raid at the farm on November 5 and collected nine urine samples from pigs, as well as one water and 20 feed samples. Given that two of the urine samples tested positive for chloramphenicol, the AFCD took, in four batches, a total of 90 additional urine samples from pigs reared at the farm. All of them, and the water and feed samples collected, tested negative for chloramphenicol.
An AFCD spokesman commented: "Given the test results of additional samples taken at the farm indicate that there is no further contravention of the requirements under the law, the farm will be permitted to resume a supply of pigs to the market on 10 December.
"The AFCD has also completed inspection of all other local pig farms that are currently in operation. Of the 82 water samples and 161 feed samples collected, none were found to contain chloramphenicol."
According to the Public Health (Animals and Birds) (Chemical Residues) Regulation, chloramphenicol is one of the prohibited chemicals in food animals. A food-animal farmer who keeps any food animal which contains any prohibited chemical commits an offence, and is liable upon conviction to a maximum fine of $100,000.
The AFCD has issued advisory letters, organised a seminar and distributed booklets to remind operators of local pig farms about the requirements on the use of veterinary drugs under the law. Veterinary Officers of the AFCD also checked the drugs used by the farms during inspection and no irregularity was detected.
The use of veterinary drugs in food animals is closely monitored. Samples are collected from food animals entering the slaughterhouses in Hong Kong for testing of agricultural chemical and veterinary drug residues. Those animals in the slaughterhouses found to contain prohibited chemicals are withheld from the food chain and destroyed. Between 2012 and 2014 there was one positive case of prohibited chemicals in pigs admitted to the slaughterhouse.
ThePigSite News Desk