After the government last week announced a one-month ban on the use of kitchen waste as swine feed, starting Wednesday, the Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday said it is working with the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) on food waste treatment issues.
The council imposed the ban after police in New Taipei City on Aug. 18 seized 71kg of pork jerky and sausages smuggled from Vietnam which were contaminated with the African swine fever virus.
The virus can be transmitted to pigs through food waste if it is not cooked at 90°C for more than an hour, the council said.
The smugglers had since March allegedly been bringing in meat products from the Southeast Asian nation using air express delivery services, police said.
A crackdown has subsequently been launched to hunt for more meat contaminated with the African swine fever virus.
Despite last week’s announcement, four pig farms that do not have food waste processing facilities were found to have been feeding pigs with kitchen waste.
Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) yesterday told representatives from associations in central Taiwan that all pig farms must stop receiving food waste today, in preparation for Wednesday’s ban.
The nation produces an average of 1,200 tonnes of food waste per day, and processing such a massive amount would pose a great challenge, Chen said.
“We are handling food waste as per the EPA’s instructions,” Chen said. “Food waste produced by families will be dehydrated and incinerated by local environmental protection departments, while waste produced by food business operators will be handled at designated facilities.”
Pig farmers who help take food waste to different processing facilities would receive transport subsidies, he said.
The fatality rate of pigs that consume food waste contaminated with the African swine fever virus is 100 percent, Chen said.
“Taiwan has 6,400 pig farms. Once the epidemic begins to spread in one pig farm, other farms would be affected as well,” he said. “If Taiwan becomes an [African swine fever-]infected nation, we would not be able to export pork to other countries, and pork prices would crumble. The virus is already on our doorstep, and we will do whatever we can to keep all pig farms free from African swine fever.”
Farms could be fined NT$50,000 to NT$1 million (US$1,790 to US$35,806) for breaching the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Diseases (動物傳染病防治條例) if they continue accepting food waste today or use food waste to feed pigs next month, Chen said, adding that they would be fined repeatedly until the issue is addressed.
The government is offering NT$1.2 million to people who report farms contravening the ban, he said.
Department of Animal Industry Director-General Chang Ching-wei (張經緯) said that 676 pig farms that fed pigs with food waste would be subsidized NT$500 per pig for switching to other swine feed for next month.
They would receive a subsidy of up to NT$2,500 for swine feed if they sign an affidavit saying that their pigs are fed with grain feed from birth to slaughter and they would permanently stop using food waste to feed them, he added.
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