A pork vendor in Taipei has been found selling Jinhua ham (金華火腿) possibly smuggled from China, where African swine fever has been spreading, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday, warning that the disease has become a threat to national security.
The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on Thursday said in two statements that four more cases of the disease have been reported in Anhui and Heilongjiang provinces, raising the number of cases in China to 13 since the first case was reported in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, on Aug. 3.
To prevent the disease from entering Taiwan, the government formed an interagency task force to implement strict quarantine measures, COA Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) said yesterday on the sidelines of the National Agricultural Congress in Taipei.
Despite a government ban on imports of Chinese pork products, the task force caught a pork vendor at Taipei’s Nanmen Market (南門市場) selling Jinhua ham — a signature product of the Chinese pork industry, he said.
The vendor claimed that the ham was consigned by others, Lin said, without indicating the amount of ham or the date of its inspection.
The source of the ham has not been confirmed, COA Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Deputy Director-General Shih Tai-hua (施泰華) said separately, adding that an inspection was under way.
The finding is unnerving, because the virus that causes the disease is resistant to acidic and alkaline substances; can survive in frozen pork for 1,000 days and refrigerated pork for 100 days; and has no cure or vaccine, the bureau said.
The bureau last month found 292 instances of travelers who were attempting to import Chinese meat products into Taiwan and 24 samples it has tested were confirmed to be safe, Shih said.
People found importing animal parts carrying the virus could face up to seven years in prison or a fine of up to NT$3 million (US$97,479) for contravening Article 33 of the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease (動物傳染病防治條例), he said.
While those found importing meat products without following quarantine measures would face a fine of between NT$3,000 and NT$15,000, in line with the statute, people found importing raw meat products from China would be given the maximum fine, the bureau said.
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