If you thought China’s flood of pig carcasses was a one-time thing, you are in for a nasty surprise. According to Chinese state media, hundreds of dead pigs are appearing in a Qionglai reservoir every month, and may be linked to recent government attempts to tighten up restrictions on selling pork. With over 300,000 pig farmers along the rivers that feed the reservoir, it seems as though some of them are dumping the carcasses into the river in order to dispose of them.
China has a dubious record with food safety, with rat meat passed off as lamb and pork passed off as beef, among other things. In an attempt to improve food safety, the country has apparently tightened rules so that dead pigs can no longer sold for human consumption or for animal feed, such as fish food. Consequently, it seems as though farmers are dumping carcasses into the rivers at night. Prior to the stricter controls, which began in 2005, it was rare to find pigs in the waterways.
Last week 157 pigs were recovered from a river in Jiangxi province and last year the world was stunned after 16,000 dead pigs were discovered in the Huangpu river. Now, an average of 500 are being pulled out of the reservoir every month. The problem has become so bad that local water utilities have been forced to hire two individuals to retrieve carcasses. “I have no time to do other things at home now that my main job every day is to recover dead pigs,” said Xu Bangchun, one of the hired workers.
In order to address the problem on their end, the government has introduced a subsidization program to encourage farmers to dispose of dead animals in a sanitary way, but the provision excludes piglets because of their vulnerability to disease. Most of the carcasses recovered have been piglets, further solidifying the idea that farmers are throwing away dead pigs because of the new regulations.