Wed, May 15, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Raise fine to NT$3m for tainted pork: legislator

By Hsieh Chun-lin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

From left, Democratic Progressive Party legislators Wu Kuen-yuh, Ho Chih-wei and Lin Ching-yi chew pork jerky at a news conference in Taipei yesterday to support local meat products.

Photo: CNA

A legislator yesterday proposed increasing efforts to educate the public regarding the severity of African swine fever and amending the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease (動物傳染病防治條例) to allow repeat offenders to be fined up to NT$3 million (US$96,376).

From Aug. 27 last year to Saturday last week, a total of 1,463 imported pork products were tested for the virus, including 1,297 from China, 114 from Vietnam and 52 from other countries and regions, with 57 — 55 from China and two from Vietnam — testing positive, statistics compiled by the Central Epidemic Command Center for African swine fever showed.

The swine fever-positive rate was particularly high among products from China, accounting for 0.6 percent, 1.1 percent and 2.2 percent of the total in October, November and December last year, and 6.2 percent, 8 percent, 3.9 percent and 7.6 percent in the first four months of this year.

This month, nine products have so far tested positive for the virus, and the rate is expected to rise to 15 percent, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said during an inspection at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

Agence France-Presse on Saturday reported that 6,000 pigs in Hong Kong would be slaughtered after the virus was detected on a farm near the border with Shenzhen, China.

The World Organisation for Animal Health is on the verge of recognizing Taiwan as a nation free of foot-and-mouth disease without the use of vaccinations, which could help it get back on track after a bout of the disease wiped out much of its pork export market in 1997, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Ho Chih-wei (何志偉) said.

The nation’s pork industry in its heyday exported NT$50 billion of pork products, but it lost NT$170 billion in 1997 due to the disease, Ho said.

Should African swine fever break out, the nation could lose more than NT$200 billion, he added.

The government should increase public awareness about the severity of the issue, as the 235 breaches of the statute from the date of its amendment until April 28 shows that the public is not aware of its severity, Ho said.

It should also amend the statute to increase the maximum fine for importing diseased pork to NT$3 million, and should fine first-time offenders NT$1 million, Ho added.

Australia instituted a maximum fine of NT$9.2 million and a prison sentence of up to 10 years for any traveler caught with diseased pork, while Japan announced that from April 22, those who fail to declare, but are discovered to be in possession of diseased pork would face up to three years in prison, Ho said.

DPP Legislator Wu Kuen-yuh (吳焜裕) urged China to observe the 2008 Cross-Strait Food Safety Agreement (海峽兩岸食品安全協議).

With Hong Kong now an infected area, China, as a member of the global community, has a responsibility to safeguard human and animal health, Wu said.

People visiting Macau and Hong Kong should refrain from returning with products that contain pork, DPP Legislator Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀) said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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