Tests at slaughterhouses in Ho Chi Minh City have found high rates of pigs drugged with a carcinogenic growth-promoting steroid.
A report on news website VnExpress Friday said that 43 percent of urine samples taken from the live pigs and 24 percent of the pork samples tested positive for the banned Î²- agonist agent, which makes the animals retain water and causes their muscles to swell.
The information was released at a Thursday meeting held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Hanoi, following the local media's reports on the rampant use of the steroids in Dong Nai Province, a major provider of pigs and pork to the city.
Consuming the pork infused with the agent over a significant period of time can lead to high blood pressure and heart palpitations.
Nguyen Xuan Duong, deputy head of the ministry's Husbandry Department, said the use of the drug is on the rise.
"The rate of the contaminated samples is higher and more farmers are using the chemical," Duong said at the meeting.
Minister Cao Duc Phat criticized the ministry-run agencies and local authorities for not working effectively to curb the situation.
"I need the figures to reduce," Phat said.
He asked related agencies to stop hiding the ugly truth just to protect their reputation.
"No one of us sitting here dares to eat meat contaminated with Clenbuterol or Salbutamol. So we have to stop hiding the truth and inform people of the situation so they do not eat the drugged meat."
Phat said besides slaughterhouses, thorough investigations must be conducted also at pig farms, pig dealers, animal feed production centers and pork retailers.
"This is a crime," he said, asking agencies to consider the chemical as they would heroin.
Those caught using and trading banned substances in breeding face jail terms of 3-5 years under Vietnam's Penal Code, as well as cash fines between VND10-40 million (US$1,920).
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