The Council of Agriculture (COA) and several local government bureaus yesterday started site inspections on live poultry slaughtering at traditional markets in Taipei as a nationwide ban on the display and slaughter of live poultry took effect yesterday in an attempt to prevent an H7N9 avian influenza outbreak.
While officials from the council’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine found that vendors at Taipei’s Zhongshan Market had conformed to the new regulation, an inspection team from the Taipei City Government’s Department of Health visited the Taipei Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale Market in Wanhua District (萬華) and found that one vendor continued to display about 10 live chickens in an iron cage.
Inspectors issued a ticket to the vendor for violating the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法).
Department Commissioner Lin Chi-hung (林奇宏) said the department asked the vendor to rectify the situation immediately.
While most vendors have abided by the new regulations, Yongchun Market Vendors Association director Huang Shiu-yu (黃秀玉) said that given the government’s lack of communication with local vendors about the implementation of the ban, it should not have started on a Friday when poultry trading was busy.
“The poultry business is usually busy on Fridays and during the weekend. Launching the ban on a Friday shows that the government does not understand traditional markets,” she said.
Lin said the timing of the ban was determined by the central government.
Vendors who continue to slaughter poultry would be in violation of the Animal Industry Act (畜牧法), and would be subject to a fine of between NT$20,000 (US$660) and NT$100,000.
In addition, live poultry trading in traditional markets became illegal yesterday, and the offense is now punishable in accordance with the Communicable Disease Control Act, with a maximum penalty of NT$15,000.
Starting yesterday, Taipei’s live poultry is to be sent to Huanan Public Market in Wanhua District for slaughtering.
According to the city government’s Market Administration Office, between 50,000 and 60,000 birds are slaughtered in the city every day.
Of the 177 live poultry vendors in Taipei, 145 vendors decided to sell frozen meats, while another 32 said they would exit the industry, the office said.
The council has offered subsidies to live poultry vendors in traditional markets to switch to selling poultry from authorized slaughterhouses.
During a two-week period from May 3 to Thursday, a subsidy of NT$10 was offered for each chicken killed in slaughterhouses.
During the inspections yesterday, some vendors expressed their wish that the council increase the subsidy from NT$10 to at least NT$20 to cover extra expenses.
Some vendors added that poultry sales have dropped between 30 percent and 40 percent since the ban was announced and that the number of chickens that they need to buy everyday has become difficult to estimate.
In response, the council yesterday said it would extend the incentive period by another month in two phases, with the first phase starting yesterday and running until June 1.
If the number of chickens slaughtered at slaughterhouses is higher than the first period this month a subsidy of NT$10 would be provided for each chicken.
The second phase is to run from June 2 until June 17 and would also offer NT$10 for each chicken surpassing the total number of chickens sold during the first phase.