Dong Nai authorities have requested for criminal investigation into the case of 14 farms found with illegal growth-promoting agent in the southern province.
Pham Minh Dao, director of Dong Nai Department of Agriculture and Rural Department, said that his agency has requested the police to identify people who sold the steroid to the farmers.
Earlier, an inspection of 48 farms in the province found 14 of them in 4 districts growing pig with illegal additives.
According to Tran Van Quang, director of Dong Nai Animal Health Agency, it was the first time inspectors found the agent being used widely in large farms with about 100 pigs each.
“Earlier, we only found similar violations by households who only grow a few pigs,” he said.
The involved farmers have been fined VND15 million (US$690) each. They were also told to stop growing the pigs with the agent and only sell them if relevant tests are negative for it.
Dao said that it needs time before pressing criminal charges against farmers who use the illegal agent.
However in the near future, violating farmers will be banned from growing pigs and involved pig traders and slaughterers will have their business license revoked.
Pig traders play a major role in encouraging the use of the illegal agent, he said.
“My relative said that traders would pay an additional VND1 million for a pig grown with the agent,” he said.
La Van Kinh, director of the Institute of Animal Sciences for Southern Vietnam, said that beta-agonist additives are banned agents that can reduce fat and promote meat in pigs.
Popular forms of the agent are clenbuterol and salbutamol, which were designed to treat asthma and lung conditions, but only under strict supervision.
High doses of the agent used in pigs will accumulated in pork that is harmful to human muscles and nervous and circulation systems, Kinh said.
Inspectors also said that pigs grown with the illegal agent can weigh up to 140 kg, by 30-40 kg more than other pigs. These pigs rarely stand due to their heavy weight, they said.
The use of the steroid in husbandry has been banned in Vietnam since 2002.