BEIJING, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Chinese authorities have arrested 989 people accused of making and selling clenbuterol, blamed in a recent tainted-pork scandal, an official said Monday.
Xu Hu, a senior official in the Ministry of Public Security, said the arrests came after police busted a criminal ring involved in the manufacture and sale of clenbuterol in 63 cities nationwide, Xinhua reported. The illegal drug is used as an additive in pig feed to help burn fat and make pork meat leaner but is poisonous to people consuming the tainted meat.
Pork is the most consumed meat in China and rising prices for it have been blamed as the main reason for China's rising inflation, a matter of much concern to the government's economic policymakers.
The clenbuterol-tainted pork scandal, which came to light in March, has heightened consumer concern across the country, forcing authorities to come down hard on violators. The scandal is one of the latest in a string of cases that have raised serious questions about the safety and reliability of Chinese food and other products, and have hurt China's image overseas.
The official Chinese media have been publishing hard-hitting articles on these scandals.
Xu said in the latest crackdown police seized 2.75 tons of clenbuterol and closed six illegal laboratories, 12 production lines, 19 processing and storage sites and 32 "underground" factories, Xinhua said.
The crackdown, led by 2,000 police officers, is focused largely in Hunan, Sichuan, Hubei and Henan provinces.
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