Amid swine fever fears, Taiwan to crack down on meat smuggling from China

Almost 300 cases of meat smuggling from China were found out in August alone

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A hog farm in China.

A hog farm in China. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Amid fears of an epidemic of African swine fever spreading from China, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said Friday it had found 292 instances of people smuggling meat, including raw pork, into the country from China during August.

Customs would toughen its checks on airlines and ships arriving in Taiwan as well as fishing trawlers, the Central News Agency reported.

Since African swine fever was such a contagious disease and killed so many animals, it was essential for it to be kept out of Taiwan or the hog farming sector would suffer badly, COA Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) said.

One of the measures under consideration was reportedly a text message to the cell phones of Taiwanese arriving in China warning them about the disease. One Taiwanese system operator had already begun the practice, advising Taiwanese visitors to China not to visit any farms and not to bring meat products back from the country.

Fishing trawlers active close to the Chinese coast also might need more attention, with checks at the harbors of Kinmen, Kaohsiung and Keelung to be toughened up, CNA reported.

Inspectors at airports would also be on the lookout for packages sent from China and check whether they contained meat products, Huang said.

The 292 cases of meat smuggling from China in August included products like ham, sausages, but also raw pork found at Taipei Songshan Airport, according to CNA. Some of the products had been tested, but the results were not out yet.

Meat smuggling can be punished with fines ranging from NT$3,000 (US$97) to NT$15,000.