China

Smog blamed on smoking bacon, city bans practice ahead of new year

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

It is often so smoggy in Chongqing that it is hard to see the buildings across the Jialing river clearly
It is often so smoggy in Chongqing that it is hard to see the buildings across the Jialing river clearly
The culinary practice of smoking bacon, a traditional method of preserving pork, has been banned in the Chinese city of Chongqing after being blamed for much of its noxious air.

The southwest municipality’s environmental protection bureau stopped bacon being smoked in major districts, with the city’s public security, city planning, food and drug departments combining to stamp out the practice this week.

Traditional holiday cooking method

It is traditionally a popular activity in Chongqing and neighbouring Sichuan province at this time of year, when families prepare smoked bacon ahead of the Chinese new year, which will fall on February 19.

This, along with the also popular firewood chicken, require materials to be burnt in the open air, has caught the ire of city officials, who are pursuing a wider policy of replacing traditional cooking methods with those involving less polluting materials, such as natural gas, electricity and liquefied gas.

On its website, the municipality announced that anyone caught offending would be fined RMB5,000 (US$803).

While many residents will be upset at being forced to end a tradition that has endured for generations, many others will be pleased at the chance of having better air quality.

Recently, Chongqing’s particulate matter air quality index hit 2.5 amid soaring readings—similar to that currently of Shanghai, and deemed “unhealthy​”—with the environmental bureau laying the blame for this largely on the preparation of firewood chicken and smoked bacon.

Setting a trend

Chongqing is not the first city to implement such a law; just days before, neighbouring Dazhou blamed lingering smog on bacon smoking, leading civil servants to raid meat-smoking sites.

It is not the first time that Chinese government officials have suggested controversial explanations for smog, Xinhua, China’s official news agency, reported. 

In October, Beijing’s environmental watchdogs, blamed smog on farmers burning straw in neighbouring Henan province—an agricultural practice with a long history.

In recent years, swathes of the country have frequently reported heavy smog, slashing visibility and posing health hazards. China has taken a variety of measures to contain severe air pollution, including restricting industrial production and vehicle use, Xinhua said.

Related topics: Policy, Food safety, Meat, China, East Asia

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