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Police have arrested nine people and revoked the licence of a livestock market owner in a case involving pork tainted with a chemical that made 70 people sick in southern China's biggest city, an official say.
The incident in Guangzhou has raised new fears about the safety of China's food industry, which in the past year has been rocked by scandals involving milk powder and other items laced with harmful additives.
Officials began investigating the pork case about two months ago when 70 people became ill after eating pig organs in Guangzhou. Many of the diners were hospitalized with stomachaches, diarrhoea, vomiting and headaches.
Investigators determined the pork was tainted with clenbuterol and ractopamine, banned chemicals used to make animals develop more muscle and less fat.
An official at the city's Industry and Commerce Bureau, who would only give her surname, Chen, told The Associated Press that nine suspects were arrested and that police were searching for six more.
The official would not provide information about how many people were accused of raising the pork and how many were involved in dealing it.
Authorities also revoked the business licence of Quanfa Food Co, Ltd, which owned the livestock market that sold the pork, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. The company failed to properly inspect the meat and its response was too slow when the food poisoning cases began to be reported, the local Nanfang Daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The suspects could be sentenced to up to five years in prison if found guilty of dealing in tainted food, Xinhua said.
A series of tainted food scandals has embarrassed China, and authorities have begun a nationwide crackdown on the problem.
The worst controversy involved baby formula contaminated with melamine, which can cause kidney stones and kidney failure. Six children died and nearly 300,000 were sickened. Three people convicted in the case have been sentenced to death.