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Fine for smuggling meat products to be raised to NT$300,000

2018/11/08 14:25:25

Taipei, Nov. 8 (CNA) The maximum fine for illegally bringing meat products into Taiwan will be increased from NT$15,000 (US$489) to NT$300,000 to better prevent Taiwan from being affected by African swine fever (ASF) or hoof-and-mouth disease if a proposed amendment passes the Legislature.

The Cabinet on Thursday approved the draft amendment to the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease to increase the fine, which an official with the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) said "has little deterrent effect" on smuggling.

In the wake of outbreaks of ASF in China first reported Aug. 3, Taiwan has intensified border inspections of meat products and discovered 148 cases of people illegally bringing in raw or undercooked products between Sept. 1 and Nov. 4, Feng Hai-tung (馮海東), head of the BAPHIQ, said at a press conference.

Of the 148 items confiscated, 93 were from China, where there have been 60 reported ASF cases in 15 provinces, cities or areas, Feng said.

At the end of last month, a meat product brought in by travelers from China to Kinmen was found to be contaminated with the ASF virus, but the virus has not reached any pig farms in Taiwan, according to the Council of Agriculture.

It is important to prevent the spread of ASF and hoof-and-mouth across borders because infection would derail the efforts Taiwan has made over the years to be recognized by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as a country free from hoof-and-mouth disease without vaccination, Feng said.

Taiwan has been striving to gain full status as hoof-and-mouth free without vaccination next year to lift a ban on exports of pork products that has devastated the country's swine industry since a major outbreak of the disease in 1997, he said.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)