TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- In an attempt to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF) or hoof-and-mouth disease to Taiwan, the Cabinet yesterday (Nov. 8) passed a draft amendment to the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease (動物傳染病防治條例) to raise the penalty for passengers illegally smuggling meat into the country to NT$300,000 (US$9,747), pending approval by the Legislative Yuan, reported CNA.
At a press conference yesterday, Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka (谷辣斯.尤達卡) announced that during a Cabinet meeting held to discuss the ASF epidemic and ways to prevent its spread to Taiwan, Premier William Lai (賴清德) put forth an amendment to Article 45 Section 1 of the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease to raise the penalty for smuggling raw pork or undercooked processed pork products from NT$15,000 to NT$300,000.
Feng Hai-tung (馮海東), head of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ), said at a press conference that since Sept. 1, Taiwan has imposed the maximum fine of NT$15,000 on 148 passengers who had illegally carried raw or uncooked meat products into Taiwan from countries with ASF or hoof-and-mouth outbreaks. Feng said that 93 of those fined had arrived from China, and despite the fines, the number of violations had only continued to increase.
Smuggled hotdogs seized from traveler. (Photo from BAPHIQ)
Feng added that the ASF epidemic in China is serious and posses a major threat to Taiwan. He said that the government is actively taking various measures to prevent the introduction of the virus to Taiwan and will revise the current penalty benchmark in accordance with the situation with the future.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) stressed that although ASF does not infect chickens, ducks, and geese, there is also the problem of avian influenza. Thus, regardless of the type meat, be it raw or undercooked meat-based products, it is illegal for passengers to carry it with them into the country.
Lai also asked the relevant ministries to strengthen the publicity and implementation of border quarantine measures to safeguard the production of Taiwan's agricultural and livestock industries. Lai also asked the Council of Agriculture to actively coordinate with the opposition party groups in the Legislative Yuan to complete the process of approving the amendment as soon as possible.
Sniffer dog searching for smuggled meat in Kinmen Port. (CNA image)