WILDLIFE UPDATE : CHINA : Tainted frogs removed from food market

National emblem of the People's Republic of China
National emblem of the People’s Republic of China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FARMED bullfrogs, a delicacy in China, were found to have been fed an antibiotic, banned for use in animals, during regular market inspections in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province. Shanghai Daily reports

A total of five batches of bullfrogs in the Mawangdui wholesale market were found last month to contain furazolidone, a cheap anti-bacterial that can damage the nervous system and cause liver necrosis if used improperly, a food safety official said. The exact number of bullfrogs tested was unclear but all the frogs in the market were removed from sale, officials said.

The Shanghai Food Safety Office said their checks have not turned up any such problems in locally sold bullfrogs.

Most of the contaminated frogs found in Changsha weren’t raised there but came from southeast China‘s Fujian and Guangdong provinces, which are big bullfrog producers for other areas, including Shanghai.

Some growers feed the frogs, which are vulnerable to intestinal and liver disorders, with furazolidone because of the drug’s quick effectiveness and low price, Changsha Evening News reported yesterday.

A frog supplier in Changsha surnamed Chen told the newspaper he earns only 1 yuan (16 US cents) by raising and selling 1 kilogram of frogs. He said the meager profit drives some suppliers to take such measures to ensure as many frogs as possible survive.

The suppliers can get the medicine in pharmacies but apparently do not realize improper use can risk the health of the people who eat the frogs, the paper said.

Medical experts said one big concern is that if animals are fed such antibiotics improperly, the drugs will lose effectiveness because microbes will develop immunity to them.

In Shanghai, the trade in bullfrogs reached its peak in 2011, when Sichuan and Hunan cuisines were trendy, with 30,000 to 40,000 kilograms of frogs sold by markets every day.

But local consumption was lowered following food safety scares. In the biggest case, in June 2011, more than 400 kilograms of bullfrogs were removed in local markets after they were suspected of containing cholera bacteria. The frogs tested negative for the bacteria, officials said.

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