Taiwan warns against smuggling meat as Lunar New Year nears

The holiday is a time when people return home for reunions with loved ones and enjoy eating seasonal foods

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(Pixabay image)

(Pixabay image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Individuals visiting Taiwan are requested not to bring or mail contraband meat products to the country, as an influx of visitors are expected to arrive for the upcoming Lunar New Year break.

Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) of the Council of Agriculture (COA) inspected the X-ray machines that handle international packages during a visit to postal facilities on Monday (Nov. 9). Reports have surfaced that meat merchandise or samples have managed to find their way into the country through delivery services.

Last week, UDN reported that an e-commerce platform has been hawking a China-made rat trap that comes with a sausage bait. This reignited fears that parcel delivery services could become a weak link in the fight against African swine fever (ASF), which has plagued 10 Asian countries, including China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, North Korea, South Korea, and East Timor, according to Central Emergency Operation Center (CEOC).

A total of 117 meat items were impounded in September, eight times the monthly average. This could be attributed to the custom of sending food presents to relatives and friends during Mid-Autumn Festival, said the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ).

Between Dec. 14, 2018 and Nov. 30, 2019, Taiwan levied fines of NT$200,000 (US$6,562) to 632 visitors upon entry in violation of the meat ban, 216 of whom were denied entry for failing to pay the fine, wrote Nownews. Chinese travelers constituted the lion’s share, with 560 breaching the law.

An amendment to the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease passed the third reading at the legislature on Dec. 3, and will go into effect pending a proclamation by the president. The legislation stipulates that e-commerce businesses will be subject to a fine between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000 for failing to comply with animal quarantine measures, said CEOC.