TAIPEI: From Sept. 1 to Oct. 14, 181 people were caught trying to smuggle illicit Chinese meat products into Taiwan, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ, 農業委員會動植物防疫檢疫局) said in a statement on Oct. 15.
The bureau said that 25 people were fined the maximum penalty of NT$15,000 (US$486) while the rest were fined NT$3,000.
Taiwan authorities have clamped down on illegal meat being brought into Taiwan in recent months, as concerns grow over increasing cases of African swine fever across China. The bureau said that cases of African swine fever had been detected in 37 municipalities across China, and further cases are likely to be found in the future.
African swine flu is a contagious and deadly disease for animals, and poses a significant risk to Taiwan’s agriculture sector and biosecurity. During the month of August alone, 292 people were caught smuggling illegal and at-risk Chinese meat into Taiwan
During the past 6 weeks, 228 seized meat products were tested for African swine fever, with all results coming back negative, the bureau said.
BAPHIQ said it was clamping down on smuggled pork products from areas affected by both African swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease.
The bureau stated that it is working with airports in China to distribute information pamphlets to passengers in a bid to help inform travelers of the rules and risks involved with bringing at-risk meat into Taiwan.
BAPHIQ said those who break the rules will face increased penalties, and its agency will continue to work with customs officials to enforce Taiwan’s laws.