by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Aug 11, 2011
A Chinese court has jailed seven people for selling an illegal fat-burning chemical that can sicken humans to pork producers, official media said Thursday.
The verdict in the central province of Henan brings to 15 the number of people handed prison sentences in the last two weeks for involvement in the contamination of pork, a Chinese dietary staple.
The seven were given sentences of between one and 10 years for selling clenbuterol, a carcinogenic food additive used to keep pigs lean, the Xinhua news agency said.
They were arrested after reports in March that clenbuterol was found in pigs purchased by a subsidiary of the Shuanghui Group, China's largest meat processor, and were fined 1,000-28,000 yuan (around $150-$4,500), Xinhua said.
The latest sentencing comes two weeks after the court jailed eight others for "endangering public safety" by producing and selling the substance.
Clenbuterol is banned in China because it can lead to dizziness and heart palpitations in humans.
The additive was sold to pork producers in Henan, Jiangsu, Anhui and Shandong provinces and Shuanghui was forced to apologise in March when it was found in some of its products marketed under its Shineway brand.
China has suffered a series of food safety scandals in recent years, from toxic milk to dyed buns.
In May, the country's top court ordered that capital punishment be used for food safety crimes that result in fatalities.
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