HCM CITY — Animal feed industry representatives and health officials have called for slapping criminal charges against those who use lean-meat additives in feed.
They were speaking at a conference held in HCM City on Friday to discuss cracking down on the use of banned additives that increase lean muscle growth but pose a threat to human health.
The additives, known as beta-agonist compounds, were introduced in Viet Nam by some feed companies in 2000 and banned since 2002.
However, they continue to be used illegally in animal husbandry, Viet Nam Feed Association (VFA) vice president Pham Duc Binh said.
On April 11, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development seized 7.5 tonnes of additives in the northern Hung Yen Province.
A day earlier HCM City's Environmental Crime Police Agency seized a tonne from two private firms in Binh Tan District.
Binh said it is necessary to bring those who use the substances to court since the prescribed penalties are not deterrent enough to stamp out their use.
The chemicals, especially beta-agonist, have recently been found to be widespread in pig farming since, besides making the meat lean, it also shortens the animals' growth period, making it more lucrative for all concerned.
Pigs fed with the substances also reportedly fetch VND1,500-2,000 per kilogram more than normal pigs.
The cause of their widespread use is also the poor oversight by the Government, La Van Kinh, deputy head of the Institute of Agricultural Science for Southern Viet Nam, said.
Authorised agencies are lax in issuing import licences for premix and additives used in feed production, VFA president Le Ba Lich, said, explaining they put them on import lists based just on descriptions provided by the importers themselves and not on tests.
Kinh said the use of the additives is not only threatening people's health but also damaging the husbandry industry since consumers have become worried.
Since the first case was discovered about a month ago in Dong Nai Province, pig farmers have suffered losses of around VND2 trillion (US$95.2 million), according to the Livestock Husbandry Department. — VNS