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Anthrax beef scare only rumor authorities assure public

By Du Liya (Global Times)

10:00, October 25, 2012

Authorities in Shanghai, Jiangsu and Liaoning say a widely circulated warning on social media about a herd of 570 anthrax-infected cattle is unfounded.

The rumor, which began last week and had been forwarded thousands of times on Weibo and through text messages, claimed the sick cattle had been transported from Liaoning to Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, the People's Daily reported Wednesday.

Food safety authorities in Suzhou assured residents in a notice Tuesday that it had investigated the rumor and no anthrax-infected beef had been sold in the local market.

The rumor appears to originate after seven anthrax-infected cattle cases were confirmed in Liaoning and two in Jiangsu in August. At that time a Weibo user in Suzhou posted a similar message advising residents not to consume beef.

The Shanghai Municipal Food Safety Committee was quoted by the People's Daily Wednesday as saying that all beef in Shanghai met national standards. The Liaoning Department of Health stated that there has been no anthrax-infected cattle found since the seven cases had been safely disposed of in August.

Bao Changjun, head of the infectious disease prevention department of the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Prevention and Control, told the Global Times the infested cattle discovered in August in the city of Lianyungang were also safely handled and no additional cases have been reported.

Bao said the authorities would inform residents if there were a serious outbreak. He says people who get infected with anthrax from cattle almost always contract the disease while slaughtering the animal.

"Residents are incredulous because there have been so many food safety scandals," Zhang Yongjian, director with the Research Center for Development and Regulation of Food and Drug Industry at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times, adding that food safety and disease control authorities need to be more transparent if they are to stop rumor mongering.
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