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A court in East China has jailed 46 people for selling meat from sick pigs.
Zhang Xingbing, the principal offender who illegally purchased, slaughtered the diseased pigs and sold the meat, was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison and fined 800,000 yuan ($129,000), Xinhua reported.
The case was heard in Wenling, a city in Zhejiang province.
Last year police arrested 65 people accused of selling meat from sick pigs and confiscated more than 10 metric tons of the product.
Forty-five other offenders and local vendors who sold diseased pigs to Zhang were also sentenced on Wednesday.
Excessive amounts of bacteria were detected in the pork products, which can pose serious health risks, the court said.
Zhang was convicted of buying more than 1,000 pigs that died from disease and selling the meat after slaughtering them between 2010 and April 2012.
Chen Guanghua, who worked at a meat factory in Wenling, was found guilty of introducing pig farmers to Zhang.
The defendants also included farmers who knowingly sold pigs killed by illness, the court said.
Meanwhile, officials in Zhejiang's Jiaxing city have reported that 6,000 pig carcasses have now been collected, after being dumped in local rivers, apparently by pig farmers.
Shanghai authorities said on Monday they had determined from the animals' ear tags that they came from Jiaxing, about 100 km away in Zhejiang province
Tests have showed some pigs may have died from porcine circovirus, a common pig disease.
"Among the 14 ear tags sent from Shanghai, one has been identified as belonging to a Jiaxing farmer, who has admitted he dumped the carcasses," the city's agriculture department was quoted as saying by people.com.cn on Wednesday.
"Seven tags cannot be identified due to the absence of information, while six still need further checks," it said.
Jiaxing authorities said they are continuing to investigate the causes of the deaths, and who was responsible for dumping the carcasses.
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(China Daily 03/14/2013 page4)