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Hedy Khoo
Sat, Nov 24, 2007
The New Paper
FOUND: Bear gall bladder sold at food fair

SHE wanted to find local delicacies at this Asian food fair. Instead, she found exotic animal parts on sale.

The account management specialist, Miss C.L. Boh, 31, was surprised that a packet of bear's gall bladder was on sale at one booth.

Bear bile products and bear gall bladders are used as a traditional medicine to treat such ailments as fever, haemorrhoids, conjunctivitis and liver problems.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) enforces the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the Endangered Species (Import & Export) Act (ESA) to regulate trade in endangered species.

Last Sunday, Miss Boh was visiting the Asian Pacific Food Expo 2007 at the Singapore Expo Hall 5 when she spotted the illegal product. She had stopped to browse at the booth after being attracted by a pair of deer's antlers on display.

BEAR PICTURES

There she spotted a packet with a picture of a bear among packets of dried Chinese herbs and cordyceps.

Said Miss Boh: 'I was curious to see what kind of product would have a bear's picture.'

On closer look, she saw the Chinese characters, 'Bear's gall bladder' on the packet.

'How could this product be brought into Singapore when it is supposed to be banned?' said Miss Boh.

She secretly took a picture with her digital camera and alerted the AVA.

The AVA confirmed that it responded to a tip-off on 20 Nov.

They checked a booth, Jilin Baishan Cai Xing, at the expo that was trading in traditional Chinese medicinal products, including bear gall bladder.

The AVA said its officers also found two other booths selling bear gall powder.

Said an AVA spokesman: 'As the bear products at the three booths were illegally imported, they were seized and investigation is underway.'

When the New Paper visited the booth last Tuesday, the booth was empty except for a few packets of cordyceps on display.

A woman in charge of the booth said she was from Shanghai and that there were no longer any bear gall bladders for sale.

She said she had been unaware these products were not allowed to be sold here. She declined to give her name or contact details of her company.

Under the ESA, any person found to possess, sell, offer, advertise or display for sale, any endangered species imported without a permit may have to pay a compound fine of up to $5,000.

If convicted, an offender can be fined up to $500,000 and/or jailed up to two years.

AVA will also confiscate all illegally acquired or imported products that contain or purport to contain endangered species.

Anyone with information on anyone selling such products as bear bile or gall bladder can contact the AVA at 6227 0670.


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