Diseased pork eaten in Shanghai for years, says farmer; “You Shanghai people have no idea how many diseased pigs you have eaten over the years”; many local farmers regularly sell their dead pigs at a discount price of around 1 yuan (US$0.16) per kilogram to recover their losses. New bird flu strand could be linked to dead pigs in Shanghai river: expert

Diseased pork eaten in Shanghai for years, says farmer

Staff Reporter 2013-04-02

The thousands of dead pigs fished out of Shanghai’s Huangpu river last month have lifted the lid on the formerly hush-hush practice of selling diseased pig carcasses for human consumption, reports Hong Kong’s Wen Wei Po.

More than 10,000 pigs have been retrieved from the river since early March, according to official figures, though internet users believe the real figure may be far higher.

Local media has reported that the dead pigs are likely to have originated from Jiaxing, a prefecture-level city in neighboring Zhejiang province about 100 kilometers southwest of Shanghai. Public pressure has reportedly now forced farmers to stash their dead pigs in more centralized locations rather than simply dumping them by the side of the road, where they were often collected by organized scavengers that resold the pigs — usually infected with disease — to butchers and meat processing companies that prepare the meat for human consumption.

“You Shanghai people have no idea how many diseased pigs you have eaten over the years,” a restaurant owner near Jiaxing told Wen Wei Po. The newspaper found that many local farmers regularly sell their dead pigs at a discount price of around 1 yuan (US$0.16) per kilogram to recover their losses.The restaurant owner claims that the diseased pig carcasses are usually transported up to Shanghai in bread vans and concealed behind a wooden board. A van can usually transport seven or eight pigs at a time, he added.

Jiaxing, which raises 7 million pigs a year, made headlines last December when 17 members of an illegal slaughterhouse were given prison sentences for selling diseased pigs from the start of 2008.

Investigations revealed that prior to the arrests the group had collected 77,000 diseased pigs for resale, making a total of 8.65 million yuan (US$1.39 million) in profit.

Many local businesses in the pork production chain have stopped collecting such carcasses for cash, at least out in the open.

Many have speculated that the dead pigs found in Shanghai were dumped by illegal operators in Jiaxing who had lost their distribution channel following last year’s criminal convictions.

This theory was shot down by Wang Changjiang, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture’s veterinary bureau, who said most of the carcasses found in the Huangpu were piglets, which are usually worthless even to those that engage in the illegal trade.

New bird flu strand could be linked to dead pigs in Shanghai river: expert

Staff Reporter 2013-04-01

The new strand of the bird flu that has already killed two people and left another critically ill in eastern China could be linked to the thousands of dead pigs found floating in a Shanghai river last month, according to a Hong Kong infectious disease expert.

China’s Ministry of Health and the National Health and Family Planning Commission announced on Sunday the world’s first reported cases of the H7N9 virus, a new subtype of the avian influenza. The virus has already killed two men, aged 87 and 27, from Shanghai, while a 35-year-old woman from Anhui province remains in critical condition.

Health authorities said there is currently insufficient data to suggest that the new strand could spread among humans, especially as 88 close contacts of the three had tested negative for the virus. As of now there is no vaccine available.

Ho Pak-leung, director of the Infectious Disease Center at the University of Hong Kong, told reporters that the H7N9 cases could be related to the 10,000-plus pig carcasses that were pulled out of Shanghai’s Huangpu River since early March. Local media reports attributed the mass dumping to a swine epidemic earlier in the year.

While there is no concrete evidence to suggest a definitive link between the two, the fact that the 27-year-old victim was a pork seller means health departments should collect samples of the dead pigs to see if they have been affected by the same virus, Ho said.

The previous outbreak of the highly pathogenic bird flu that first struck China in 2003 belonged to the H5 subtype, Ho said. This time the human infection appears to be different and suggests that this strand of the avian influenza might be evolving.

Ho is not the only person to draw a link between the new bird flu and the pig carcasses. Yuen Kwok-yung, a professor in the microbiology department at the University of Hong Kong, told reporters that while the H7N9 subtype should be low pathogenic, the virus could have mutated after infecting the pigs. However, Yuen urged the public not to panic until all necessary tests have been carried out.

Many of China’s internet users have also drawn a direct relationship between the flu and the pigs, with some saying it is obvious that birds passed the virus to pigs, which were then consumed by humans.

Huang Li-min, the director of infection in children at National Taiwan University Hospital, said the recent deaths in China are not a coincidence and that the fatality rate could be high if the virus turns out to be highly pathogenic. The virus does not necessarily have to go from bird to pig to human; it is possible that the virus could be transmitted directly from birds to humans, Huang said, adding that at this stage, the disease should be controllable as long as it is not spread from human to human.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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