‘Bad apples’ tainting industry, say pig farmers

THE majority of pig farmers in Selangor has given the assurance that they are raising healthy animals for consumption and are saddened by the action of a few “bad apples” who have tainted the industry and caused a drop in demand for pork. 

“We hope the authorities will step up enforcement and conduct continuous checks on farms.  

“If the authorities conduct more regular checks, the stubborn farmers will not be so blatant in using beta-agonist in their feed for the pigs,” said Kuala Langat Pig Farmers Association committee member Tang Tiang Sing when interviewed on Monday. 

Kuala Langat is a major pig-rearing district in Selangor.  

Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek had said recently that some pig farmers had been found to be using the banned substance beta-agonist to make their pigs mature faster. 

Tang said there had been a few stubborn farmers who continued to add the banned substance to their pigs’ feed. 

He added that the best way to curb the practice was for the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) to conduct more consistent checks. 

“This way, the errant farmers will not dare to use the banned substance. Some of them are brave because they know that enforcement is few and far in between,” he said. 

According to Tang, these stubborn farmers would stop using beta-agonist every time the issue was played up in the media, or when enforcement officers made spot checks on their farms. 

“However, when the issue blows over or when the spot checks end, the farmers will go back to their old ways.  

“The actions of this small group of irresponsible farmers has caused all of us other farmers to suffer for their crime,” he added.  

Since the issue was raised in the media in September, the price of pork has gone down from RM6.70 per kg to RM5.50.  

Tang said the association had more than 130 members whose farms supplied more than 50% of the pork for the Selangor market. 

He added that checks in the last two weeks showed that almost all the pig farmers in Kuala Langat had stopped using beta-agonist following the Government’s directive that more checks be conducted on farms. 

“But I do not know how long these farmers will stop, before they eventually return to using beta-agonist,” said Tang. 

He said there were government-approved supplements for animal feed, such as paylean, but some farmers continued to use beta-agonist, as it is cheaper than paylean

“Pigs fed with beta-agonist look sturdier and firmer, and as such, are favoured by the middlemen,” he said, adding that pigs fed with beta-agonist usually had leaner meat, but the meat was harder and tasteless.  

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