Full Title Name:  China Case Studies: 5. Water Filled Meat

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Song Wei Place of Publication:  Michigan State University College of Law Publish Year:  2005 Primary Citation:  Animal Legal and Historical Web Center

A case study from China about the practice of adding water to animals before they are sold, to increase weight.


Meat is one of the indispensable parts in human being’s diet. Their quality affects people’s health directly. In recent years, a new name ---“reassuring meat”---was raised for it, and fast spread around the country. Yet, is “reassuring meat” really reassuring? Let’s listen to what a market principal says, “our meat is widely distributed, and even supermarket like Carrefour and Makro is our big customers. Our pork occupies nearly one fifth of the pork market in Beijing.” Please notice that the “pork” here doesn’t refer to the pork in our mind, instead, it’s “meat filled in water”.


What’s “meat filled in water”? Just as its name implies, fill water in meat. Mostly, this special operation is done on pork and beef. But there are instances that water is filled into chicken, duck, or even fish and sneak. Here our focus is on pork and beef. Actually, the operation process is quite simple. Take pig as an example, first, water is drawn from a plastic pipe; then the mongers prize the pig’s mouth open and introduce the pipe directly into its throat, and water is filled in. for cattle, the procedure is in little difference: stun the cattle, cleave its breast with a small hole, and then insert an ironic pipe linking with water pipe in its heart.




We can’t help but to ask, why do they do this? Is there any profit? Of course there is, and the profit is huge! Just imagine, after this special “operation”, a common pig or cattle can have their weight raise at least several kg. For example, let’s count ten to fifteen kg. increase per cattle, and with a price of seven RMB per kg. an extra 140 to 210 RMB will go to the monger’s pocket. Even if only one or two cattle are sold per day, there will still be more than a fifty thousand profit. It is on this high-profit impulse that many people engaged in this “glorious” job, and for higher interest, some dealers further choose to use dirty water which tends to be imbibed more easily. In another word, people have paid extra money to buy “water”. Besides the deception, consumers’ health, under this serious condition, is also threatened by the various pathogens in animals’ body. Therefore, the “filling water” is not merely a deceptive deed; the hidden danger is also disastrous.


A nationwide repulsion rises. In order to make sure that people could have reassuring meat, the State Council issued a series of policies, and the local governments also adopted corresponding superintend mechanisms. For example, recently a “blacklist system” targeting the present butchery situation has been built by several national government offices. It’s delightful for people to have these policies protect their rights and health; however, the animal’s rights are ignored.


In this “filling water” behavior, not only the people, but also animals such as pigs and cattle are tortured, or even more. Maybe some people will laugh at me, considering my idea to be crazy and absurd. Well, before any arguing, let’s read the following reports first:

In a “beef filled in water” producing place, there were a workman and a 200-to-300-kg-weight cattle, who were staring at each other. Suddenly, one of the workman’s hands flashed out from behind, and a steal stick was quickly inserted into the cattle’s neck. When the stick drawn out, a stream of warm blood spurted out. Then, the workman took out a one-meter-length wire, infixed it in the blood hole, and stirred hardly. Lying on the ground, the cattle twitched painfully, and were soon still. The whole process took only several seconds! There’s even no chance for the cattle to open its mouth. Following it’s paunched. Instead of taking out its viscera out first, the workman found its heart, cut a hole in it, and introduced a water pipe. Another guy beside the cistern started the electricity, and in the “ululant” sound of the machine, the cattle swelled. In merely two minutes, plenty of water was filled in. How cruel the whole process is! Just as men, animals have senses, and they can also feel this suffering. Besides, it is against the relevant international provisions, and it’s inhumane.


In this case, water was filled into the cattle after its death, and there are cases in which the “filling water” is done to living animals, which is even much crueler. For example, “brine transfusion”. In this case, the cattle’s legs and nose were all fixed with wire, and then brine was transfused through the carotid from a thick water pipe. In the second step, the cattle screeched and struggled. Filled in enough brine, they were almost all round, and staggered with trembling legs. Some were even unable to stand up, and could only lay down torturously. Then they were thrown onto the truck, nearly dead. Some were indeed swelled to death. In the first case, the cattle were tortured, but with transitory pain, while in the second case, they suffered both physically and mentally, and long-lasting. Their suffering is unimaginable I feel sad. They’re doomed to be killed, and eaten by us. Then why don’t we leave them a little while’s peace and comfort before putting them to death?


Both from the interest of the large group of consumers, and from the senses of the animals, this deceit should be roundly prohibited. In order to protect this general interest, Pig Butcheries Regulation was carried into execution since Jan. 1 st , 1998, which orbited our butchery business on the way of legal system. From then on, the principle of “pointing –place butchery/centralized quarantine/unitive rate paying/dispersive work” is gradually being practiced. These measures will help in turning our table, however, the reality is not so satisfying. Some officials in relevant execution departments engaged themselves in both executive and misfeasor. To improve our system, and better safeguard the interest of both consumers and animals, relevant legislation should be enhanced.

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