China insists recalled pork free of pig disease

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According to Chinese officials, pork they had recalled in the southern city of Shenzhen, showed, after tests were done, that it was not contaminated with the bacteria that appears to have killed nearly 40 people in the Sichuan province.

An official from the agriculture department in Shenzhen, has told the media that the recall was a preventative measure and they found nothing wrong with it. Apparently everything was within the standards set.

When the official was questioned on whether the meat was tested for Streptococcus suis bacteria, he replied that was what they "suspected".

The pig-borne disease caused by the Streptococcus suis bacteria and often called swine flu, has infected more than 200 people in China's southwest province of Sichuan, and in recent weeks 39 have died.

On Saturday it was reported by a Hong Kong newspaper that authorities recalled over 1,270 kilograms (2,800 lb) of pork, which originated from central Henan province, from two Shenzhen markets.

It was also reported that officials in Shenzhen had apparently posted notices at some housing estates promising refunds to residents who surrendered pork that they bought from the markets.

While those who had consumed the meat were ordered to register their names, they were not told why.

According to a Hong Kong official the government had been in contact with Chinese authorities.

Eddy Chan, deputy secretary for health, has told the media that though there is no outbreak in Henan, the the city was taking precautions.

However he also said, that as they have been unable to ascertain the reasons for the recall of pork, it would be inappropriate to process applications for the import of pork from Henan and Shenzhen.

Although the outbreak has killed as many as 650 pigs in Sichuan, many poor farmers instead of disposing them, ate and even sold them.

It seems that those who contracted the disease in Sichuan had slaughtered, handled or eaten infected pigs.

Unfortunately though the outbreak was first reported in June it did not surface in the Chinese media until almost a month later.

Experts say that though Streptococcus suis is endemic in most pig-rearing countries, human infections are rare.

Despite China's state media assurances that no human-to-human infections have been found in Sichuan, the infection rate and death toll is considered unusually high.

The outbreak has of course caused alarm in nearby Hong Kong, which has reported three infections since the outbreak in mainland China began, and apparently none of the people concerned had recently been to China.

Pork is China's most popular meat and although China has suspended exports of Sichuan pork to Hong Kong, sales of the meat have fallen sharply in the city, which gets most of its food from the mainland.

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