KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 — DAP lawmaker Tony Pua revealed today test results showing that some of the cattle raised under the scandal-ridden National Feedlot Centre (NFC) scheme had died from copper poisoning, raising health concerns about meat from the scheme.
He told a press conference in Parliament today that the tests by the Veterinary Services Department (VRD) were conducted on half a dozen cattle that had died at the NFC in June last year.
All the tests, he said, had indicated copper levels well above the normal range for healthy cattle, which is 25 to 100 parts per million (ppm).
One test subject, Pua pointed out, had recorded a level of 172.98 ppm. Its kidneys fared even worse, containing 43.71 ppm instead of the normal range between 4 and 6 ppm.
“This is a matter of serious concern as meat and meat products from the diseased cows may have been sold for human consumption in Malaysia,” he said.
The Petaling Jaya Utara MP said Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar must confirm if a thorough test has been conducted on all NFC livestock to ensure that copper poisoning was not a widespread problem.
He said it could be reasonably deduced that more of, if not all, the cattle at the NFC would be suffering from the same excessive level of copper even if they have not died from it.
“The minister must also confirm if all meat produced by NFC is free from copper toxicity and if the ministry has conducted stringent inspections following the discovery of copper poisoning last year,” he said.
Pua also asked if the carcasses of the dead animals have been sold as fresh meat to consumers, pointing out that Malaysians rely on ministry officers to enforce health standards are adhered to.
“We call upon the Health Ministry to state if they have been notified of the above issues, and whether they have conducted independent checks on meat produced by the NFC to ensure they are healthy,” he said.
The NFC and the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp), which runs the RM250 million federally funded cattle farming scheme, hit headlines last year when the Auditor-General reported that it had missed production targets.
Former federal minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, whose family runs the NFCorp, has since decided not to continue on as Senator after the scandal erupted in the media. She ended her term yesterday and relinquished her Women, Family and Community Development minister post to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Her husband and NFCorp chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail is currently facing charges for criminal breach of trust and violations of the Companies Act for his involvement in the scandal-ridden project.