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ASF virus found in Chinese meat product: COA

2018/10/31 21:01:28

Taipei, Oct. 31 (CNA) Amid government efforts to keep African Swine Fever (ASF) at bay, the Council of Agriculture (COA) announced Wednesday that a Chinese meat product brought by passengers into Taiwan has been detected to contain the deadly virus.

"The Animal Health Research Institute discovered the ASF virus today in a meat product brought by passengers from China to Kinmen," COA Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) told a news conference.

The tainted product, Chinese crispy sausage, was sent to the institute for examination after being collected by institute officers Oct. 25 from a garbage container at Shuitou Port in offshore Kinmen County, apparently having been discarded by passengers coming from China's Fujian Province via the ferry services between the two destinations, Huang explained.

According to Huang, the sausage was made by Shuanghai -- the largest processed food maker in China. Shuanghui's meat products have been repeatedly found to contain the ASF virus since the outbreak of the disease in China first surfaced Aug. 3, he noted.

At present, passengers caught smuggling meat products from countries and areas affected by ASF or foot-and-mouth disease can be fined a maximum of NT$15,000 (US$485), but the fine will be raised to NT$300,000 after a law amendment clears the Legislative Yuan, Huang said.

Out of 690 items examined, it was the first time the virus had been found in a foreign meat product brought into Taiwan by travelers, said Feng Hai-tung (馮海東), director-general of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ).

BAPHIQ stepped up quarantine checks at seaports and airports from Aug. 27 to prevent the epidemic from entering the country at a time when it is spreading fast in China.

The disease has spread to 13 provinces, cities and territories since the outbreak in China was first discovered Aug. 3.

Although the virus cannot jump from pigs to humans, it will create a heavy cost to the local farming industry if it enters Taiwan. There is no cure for ASF.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Flor Wang)