BEIJING (AFP) - Hundreds of dead pigs are being recovered every month from a Chinese reservoir, partly due to government efforts to stop carcasses making their way onto the dining table, state media said on Wednesday.
The revelations about the reservoir in Qionglai, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, are the latest scandal relating to food safety to hit China.
The news comes one week after authorities found 157 dead pigs in a river in Jiangxi province. A year ago China was stunned by the appearance of more than 16,000 dead pigs floating along parts of the Huangpu river which flows through the country's commercial hub Shanghai.
The dead creatures also started to drift along rivers into the Qionglai irrigation reservoir five years ago, the Western China City Daily reported.
Now an average of 500 carcasses are retrieved from it every month, the report said, citing Xu Bangchun, one of the two workers hired by local water resources authorities to deal with the remains.
"I have no time to do other things at home now that my main job every day is to recover dead pigs," said Xu, who also runs a family farm tourism business nearby.
There are more than 300,000 pig farmers along the three rivers that feed the reservoir, the paper said.
Some of them are believed to be dumping the dead animals into the waters, probably at night, it said.
Such carcasses were rare in the reservoir until 2005, when the government tightened controls to prevent meat from dead pigs being sold for food or other purposes such as fish feed, the report said, citing a farmer.
A government-subsidised pig insurance scheme was introduced to encourage farmers to dispose of fallen animals properly, it said, but excludes piglets - which make up most of the floating carcasses - because of their vulnerability to disease, the paper said.