“Attention Walmart shoppers, there is a red tag sale on fox DNA tainted donkey meat.” Yes, there was a donkey meat recall in a China Walmart after fox DNA was found in the meat. So China is now including DNA testing on their donkey meat products to make sure the meat is not tainted when it goes to consumers. All items that were received from the Dezhou Fujude Food Company were removed after meat specimens came up positive with fox DNA.
Donkey meat is considered a special delicacy in many parts of China. Foxes are not generally eaten in China, as they are only farmed for their fur. Supposedly, someone has been arrested for tainting the donkey meat that was to be distributed across many of China’s Walmart superstores, according to news headlines.
Walmart and other supermarket stores in China have a history of problems when it comes to food safety. There were reports of raw meat sitting open to be touched by bare hands, live frogs, turtles and ribs sitting out. There was even a scandal within other Chinese supermarkets in 2008 when infant formula and milk was tainted with melamine causing nearly 300,000 to become sick, including 54,000 infants who were hospitalized from consuming the products. In 2012, there were risky levels of chemicals and mislabeling in sesame oil and squid that ultimately created higher security measures for food safety. Shanghai police also dealt with fraudulent meat sold as mutton, when it really was fox and mink meat.
The company said it has zero tolerance for such problems, so by utilizing DNA tests for all meat products in order to prevent tainted meat is a huge step officials are taking to protect consumers. The tests will be done on meats that include beef, mutton, donkey, and venison. If any suspicious test results occur, the police will be notified immediately.
Walmart is the biggest retailer in the world, but it has basically exploded in China’s regions lately. Some stores will be closed in 2014 due to under-performance issues, but there are reports of 110 more stores that are going to be opened over the next three years. China currently has about 400 Walmart stores.
This whole problem could have gotten much worse, as China does have a booming industry in the dog and cat market for their meat and furs. These practices are considerably cruel; dogs sit behind chain linked fences, chewing on the wires until their mouths bleed. Cats are generally crammed into small cages while awaiting their fates. Many Chinese claim that dog and cat meat is good for the health and metabolism, because it makes one sweat out the toxins in the body. One of the most popular dishes is the hot-pot that uses dog stew meat.
A proposal called ‘The Anti-Animal Abuse Law’ has been ongoing over the years within China in order to stop the eating of cats and dogs, as well as other issues related animal cruelty. However, it still has not been fully implemented due to various differences in how the Chinese people understand the concept of welfare, especially when it comes down to animals vs. people. The new law would carry hefty fines, including incarceration time if it was broken. The proposal was brought up in 2010, but continues into various heated debates today in China.
China has a long way to go when it comes down to safe food practices and animal welfare. So if a traveler is ever in China and hears, “Attention Walmart Shoppers, there is a red tag sale on tainted donkey meat,” be sure to check if that meat is really what it is.
By Tina Elliott