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Fo Bo Slaughterhouse in compliance with law: dept.

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The New Taipei City Government's Agriculture Department yesterday announced that the Fo Bo Slaughterhouse (福伯屠宰場) has followed the principles of humane slaughtering practices and has not abused its cattle.

The department released the statement after an investigation team was sent to probe the slaughterhouse on Saturday night; it added that the designated time for slaughter and the environmental hygiene of its facility were above government standards as well.

The team looked for signs of cattle abuse and oversaw slaughter procedures.

According to the Agriculture Department, the team included experts specializing in agriculture, environmental hygiene, economic development and animal protection. The police were also called to investigate the slaughterhouse, where it has been reported by local media that the owners were pumping water into the carcasses of cattle for higher profits at the meat market.

The department staff collected samples of beef heart, liver and chuck to be checked for excess water, water retention agents and excess chemicals.

“There is no holiday for the investigation,” stated Agriculture Department officials. The department will be holding random check-ups in the future to discourage slaughterhouses from violating the law once the investigators' backs are turned.

The investigation team had tried to conduct a probe at the slaughterhouse on Friday, but paused after discovering the slaughterhouse lacked surveillance cameras and relative equipment.

The actual investigation images are not to be publicized, as the slaughterhouse is a bloody place and the images may be disturbing to many viewers, said Hsieh Hung-wei, director secretary of the Agriculture Department.

Fo Bo's owner Chang Wen-shou (張文壽) has been summoned for questioning over the alleged water-pumping on June 6.

According to local reports, water-injected meats bring in nearly NT$40 million in profit on average annually for Fo Bo Slaughterhouse after Shang Hao Meat Shun Fa wholesalers sells the product to vendors and restaurants in the Greater Taipei, Keelung and Taoyuan areas.

After reporting to the New Taipei District Prosecutors' Office following being summoned for questioning, Chang repeatedly denied his company's use of the practice when asked by local media. After over an hour of questioning, prosecutors allowed Chang to leave in order to further investigate this case, but he is still listed as a suspect.

The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ, 動植物防疫檢疫局) under the COA said that there are 14 slaughterhouses that are in operation currently in Taiwan, and officials will enforce monitoring and supervising on these slaughterhouses.

Based on the Animal Industry Act, the BAPHIQ said, slaughterhouses found in violation of regulations concerning slaughter operations will be subject to a fine of more than NT$30,000 but less than NT$150,000.

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An official of the New Taipei City Agriculture Department speaks to local media while another holds up bags containing beef samples taken from the Fo Bo Slaughterhouse. A team of investigators collected beef organs to check if the slaughterhouse has indeed been pumping water into its beef carcasses for more profit. (CNA)

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