Old hens smuggled in from China a threat to Vietnam farmers, public health

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Cheap, low-quality chicken smuggled in from China is jeopardizing Vietnamese  farmers' livelihoods and endangering public health, a top husbandry official warned at a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City Thursday.

Nguyen Thanh Son, deputy head of the Department of Husbandry, said at the meeting held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to discuss diseases that spread from animals to humans that 70,000-100,000 tons of chicken are being smuggled into Vietnam every year over the Lang Son and Quang Ninh borders.

They are from old hens that no longer lay eggs, and account for as much as half of legal chicken imports, he said.

He said the smuggled chicken impact local prices, leaving farmers unable to sell their produce.

The department said the smuggled poultry fetch many times the price they do in China.

A kilogram of aged hen goes for around VND15,000 (US$0.72) in China, but the price doubles at the Vietnam border and almost quintuples at markets on Hanoi's outskirts, it said.

The department also raised concerns about public health since farmers in China tend to feed their livestock antibiotics, and the chemicals could remain in the meat or have turned into toxins.

It called for more stringent punishment for livestock smuggling, such as seizing the animals and vehicles and treating it as a crime.

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