Officials are also developing a food tracking system to deal with chronic food chain transparency problems, as shown by the recent dumping of 15,000 dead pigs in the Huangpu River.
An official at the Shanghai Food Association, which represents manufacturers and traders, welcomed the move, but said the national government also needed to take more action: “Pre-packed foods, such as mutton, should all be clearly labeled with ingredients. I think the government needs to find a way to enhance law enforcement,” he told Globalmeatnews.com.
Since 25 January, when China’s ministry of public security (MPS) launched a national crackdown on food crime, police have arrested 3,576 criminal suspects, 904 of whom were involved in the illegal meat trade, including manufacturing and selling water-injected meat, fake beef and mutton, toxic meat and meat from fallen livestock. Over 20,000 tonnes of such meat and meat products were seized by the police by the end of April, according to the ministry.
Among all the published cases, perhaps the fake mutton sold in China’s financial centre, Shanghai, attracted the most attention. In February, policemen in Shanghai and Wuxi, a major city in Jiangsu province close to Shanghai, dismantled a criminal group manufacturing and supplying packaged mutton products - such as cold lamb in jelly, made from the meat of mice, foxes and minks - to delis in the Jiangsu province and Shanghai. About 70 kilograms (kg) of such products, heavily processed with gelatin, colours and flavours, were sold to nine small delis in Shanghai, according to the Shanghai police. The delis are now under investigation.
Meat scandals also haunted highly recognised restaurants in Shanghai. In early May, Chinese media reported that a franchise of P-Shang Dolar, a popular hotpot chain under the Hong Kong-based P-Shang Group, was selling ‘mutton’ rolls with mixed pork and duck meat.
According to P-Shang Group, the franchise did not purchase the mutton from appointed suppliers. The Shanghai store, which is located in a shopping mall, was buying packed mutton rolls from a local Shanghai company, according to the Shanghai police, which now is investigating the store.