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Taiwan races to curb spread of African swine fever

Central, local governments working hard nationwide to trace potentially infected meat

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Premier Su Tseng-chang tells Customs Administration to crack down on delinquent importers.

Premier Su Tseng-chang tells Customs Administration to crack down on delinquent importers. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Following the discovery of smuggled meat products infected with the African swine fever (ASF) virus in New Taipei City on Thursday (Aug. 19), the central and local governments alike have taken steps to prevent its spread.

Over 70 kilograms of meat products imported illegally by Vietnamese vendors were seized and subsequently found to be contaminated with ASF. Though the food was quickly destroyed, the incident triggered an alarm, as for over three years, the Taiwanese government has worked tirelessly to prevent ASF from entering the country.

As of Monday evening (Aug. 23), the National Police Agency had searched 1,297 sites across 22 cities and counties and found 19 meat products suspected to have been smuggled in from Vietnam, according to CNA. Items seized include various processed and unprocessed meats, moon cakes, and sauces.

Taiwan races to curb spread of African swine fever
Vietnam-made pork floss seized in Tainan. (CNA photo)

Local farmers feeding pigs food waste marks another focal point of this crackdown. The Environment Protection Administration said on Monday that it would audit all pig farmers that use food waste within two days; so far no offenses have been reported.

While visiting a food waste-cooking workshop, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that to prevent food waste from becoming a medium for the spread of ASF, it should be cooked for at least an hour and reach a core temperature of at least 90 degrees Celsius. He also said the government has for two years been encouraging pig farmers to use pig feed instead to decrease the chances of ASF-infected waste reaching Taiwan’s pig population.

Taiwan races to curb spread of African swine fever
Premier Su visits Taoyuan workshop where food waste is cooked. (CNA photo)

According to UDN, the premier was very dissatisfied with the Customs Administration for letting ASF slip through the border and thus ending Taiwan’s success at keeping the virus out for the last three years. He said businesses should be taught that those who break the law must pay a heavy price.

The Ministry of Justice issued a statement condemning smugglers who risk the nation’s health for profit, saying it is currently investigating the sources of these activities.