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Report says sick chickens sold

By WANG XIAODONG  (China Daily)

13:54, January 17, 2013

Law enforcement officers from the local industry and commerce administration inspect the quality of chicken and meat at a market in Huaibei, Anhui province, on Tuesday. Li Xin / for China Daily

Food supplier accused of covering up birds' ailments

A major chicken supplier in Central China has been suspected of selling sick birds to popular food chains including KFC, in the latest crisis to hit the country's poultry industry.

According to a report on on Tuesday, several chicken farms owned by Doyoo Group in Henan province have been providing sick birds to the group, which resells the chickens to fast-food chains such as KFC and McDonald's.

The report also said dead chickens were made into bone powder by the company, instead of being disinfected and buried, as regulations require.

The company had not replied to China Daily's interview request as of press time on Wednesday.

However, the food safety commission of Hebi city, where many chicken farms of the group are located, said an initial investigation shows the group is not involved in processing sick or dead chickens, according to a notice posted on the group's website on Wednesday.

Doyoo, headquartered in Henan's capital city of Zhengzhou, is one of China's largest meat producers and sells its products nationwide and abroad, according to its website.

The report said chickens were being raised in sealed enclosures, which were lit 24 hours a day at a constant temperature of about 36 C, to maximize their growth, which caused the birds to become sick, with many dying prematurely.

A chicken farmer in Hebi surnamed Yang said that more than 7,000 chickens at the farm were sick recently, but when he contacted Doyoo to express his concern, he was ordered to send the birds for slaughter and they were later sold.

The company also asked farmers to report if large numbers of chickens became sick or died, so the chickens could be slaughtered without quarantine inspection, Yang said.

"Such cases happen every year," he added.

According to the report, there were no facilities to properly handle dead or sick chickens at several farms that supply birds to the company.

Instead, each of the farms was equipped with a freezing room to store dead chickens before they were made into bone powder, the report added, citing anonymous staff members.

This is the latest scandal involving chickens in China.

In December, China Central Television revealed that Liuhe Group — a former chicken supplier of Yum Brands, which owns KFC — had been providing chickens with excessive traces of antibiotics and hormones.

The chickens were fed the drugs to reduce the death rate and shorten their growth period.

Yum in China later admitted excessive antibiotic traces were found in several batches of chicken samples from Liuhe between 2010 and 2011, but it did not disclose the fact as it was not obligated to reveal test results conducted by itself, according to Chinese law.

Yum also said it had terminated cooperation with Liuhe in 2012.

The State Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday it encourages people to disclose food safety problems.

Whistleblowers can be rewarded with as much as 300,000 yuan ($48,000) for reporting cases, according to an announcement.

Shi Baoyin in Zhengzhou contributed to this story.

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