Hundreds of dyed chicks confiscated, killed in southern Vietnam

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A woman (R) buys dyed chickens in a street in Ho Chi Minh City

Animal health authorities in the southern province of Dong Nai have destroyed hundreds of undocumented dyed chickens, a local official told Thanh Nien on Friday.

The chickens, which had no vaccination certificates and the origins of which could not be verified, were confiscated in Bien Hoa Town by the provincial Animal Health Agency, said Hoang Son Hai, chief of the agency.

The colorful live chicks are bought as toys, decorations and souvenirs.

Most of the sellers said the chickens, dyed in bright reds, blues and purples, were imported from India. They sold them for between VND15,000 and 30,000 (US$0.71-1.42) each.

Earlier, on Wednesday, the Binh Tan District animal health division in Ho Chi Minh City destroyed more than 100 dyed chickens.

A local official who asked not to be named told Thanh Nien that the chickens were imported from China and that the colorings could be toxic.

Local media has been awash in stories about the colorful chickens that Ho Chi Minh City street vendors claim come from India or Thailand.

Sellers said they often sold a hundred per day to people who bought them as toys for their kids.

Huynh Minh Tu, a veterinarian from the southern province of Long An, told VnExpress that a regular baby chick costs VND6,000-12,000, but those smuggled from China were just VND2,000-3,000 each, so sellers of dyed chickens could make a fortune.

He said it was very likely that sellers sprayed the colorings on the chickens just after they hatched.

Other reports claimed the colors were injected into the eggs before the babies hatched.

Tu said that if food coloring was used, there wasn't much worry about. However, if the sellers used industrial colorings, then the chicks could be toxic, especially for children.

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