TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The number of packages containing pork products banned due to the risk of African swine fever (ASF) entering Taiwan doubled last year, officials said Wednesday (Jan. 5), calling on migrant workers from Southeast Asia not to place orders online.
The number of regular mail packages caught containing illegal pork products more than doubled from 222 in 2020 to 529 in 2021, and the number of express service packages rose from 20 to 100 over the same period, according to the ASF Central Emergency Operation Center.
In contrast, because of higher fines starting at NT$200,000 (US$7,250), the number of travelers trying to smuggle pork into Taiwan fell from 120 in 2020 to 47 in 2021, or from 89 kilograms to 37.5 kg, CNA reported.
However, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said that over the same period, the total weight of the pork products entering the country by mail had increased from 230.3 kg to 547.2 kg, and from 66.2 kg to 443.2 kg via express mail.
A majority of the 14 countries in Southeast Asia have recorded cases of African swine fever, though Thailand has not yet provided an update to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), he said.
Authorities have advised Taiwan residents not to order pork products from overseas ahead of the Lunar New Year. They have also pledged to increase awareness of ASW policies amongst migrant workers and new immigrants, asking them not to have packages with meat sent to them from their home countries.
Before the Jan. 29 – Feb. 6 holiday period, inspectors will visit 200 to 500 shops thought to be selling imported meat products, including pork from Southeast Asia, Chen said.
During the period from Oct. 1, 2018, until the end of 2021, customs found traces of African swine fever in 292 out of 3,643 items, including 227 imported from China, 63 from Vietnam, and two from Thailand.