A total of 46 people were poisoned in South China’s Guangdong province this week after having eaten pig organs that contained an animal-feed additive, local health authorities reported to news agency Xinhua.
All people were hospitalised for stomach aches and diarrhoea. Three people remained in the hospital for further observation, said Wang Guobin, an official with the Guangzhou Municipal Public Health Bureau.
Wang said all of them had eaten pig organs, which, according to an initial investigation, were contaminated by the feed additive clenbuterol.
The chemical, dubbed ‘shouroujing’, meaning ‘lean meat essences for pigs’ in Chinese, can prevent pigs from accumulating fat, but is poisonous to humans and can be fatal.
It is banned as an additive in pig feed in China and in most other countries of the world.
Wang said a further investigation is underway to find out the source of the additive.
China has launched a crackdown on tainted food following the deaths of at least six babies last year from drinking formula milk contaminated with melamine, a toxic industrial compound.