Taipei: A special inter-ministerial operation has been launched to investigate the smuggling of meat products from China, where a highly contagious and deadly virus that causes African swine fever (ASF) is spreading through hog farms, according to the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture.
COA Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) announced the probe after cured ham suspected to have been smuggled from China was found to be for sale at Nanmen Market in Taipei’s Zhongzhen District.
When a joint operation conducted by the COA and the Ministry of Health and Welfare discovered the ham and staff asked its origins, the respective vendor said it was left there as part of a consignment sale, COA Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) said.
Information from August shows that the virus has spread rapidly in the mainland and there is the fear that infected pork in China might be used to make processed food products which could end up in Taiwan, Lin said.
He added that since the virus can survive for 1,000 days while frozen, there is the possibility that the virus can be brought into Taiwan.
It is necessary to strictly examine all meat products from China that may be smuggled in to avoid the virus that causes ASF from exerting a heavy toll on Taiwan’s hog industry, which is worth up to NT$100 billion (US$3.25 billion), Huang said.
Places where checks will be conducted include traditional markets, Huang added.
The color of the cured ham found at the market looked as if it came from China, and if it is confirmed to have originated from the mainland, then those involved will be criminally liable for smuggling pork, Huang said.
According to a Liberty Times online report on Aug. 11, Taiwan only allows pork imports from around 15 countries, including Japan, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a number of European nations.