First batch of frozen pork from Malaysia since 1999

Shoppers looking over frozen pork products at NTUC Fairprice in Ang Mo Kio Hub. The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) recently approved the import of frozen pork from a slaughterhouse in Sarawak, marking the partial end of a more-than-decade
Shoppers looking over frozen pork products at NTUC Fairprice in Ang Mo Kio Hub. The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) recently approved the import of frozen pork from a slaughterhouse in Sarawak, marking the partial end of a more-than-decade-long import ban on the product from Malaysia. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 

AVA approves one Sarawak slaughterhouse

FROZEN pork from Malaysia is back in markets here, marking the partial end of a more-than-decade-long import ban on the product.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) recently approved the import of frozen pork from a slaughterhouse in Sarawak.

The first consignment arrived here in February and, as of last month, about 9 tonnes of frozen pork products have been imported from there.

The ban on the import of live pigs and raw pork from Malaysia was introduced in 1999, after an outbreak of the Nipah virus. The virus, which is carried by pigs, killed 100 Malaysian pig farmers and an abattoir worker here.

A spokesman for the AVA said Sarawak's state animal and veterinary public health programmes were assessed and inspections were conducted at the pig-farming area and slaughterhouse to ensure that bio-security control measures and hygiene standards meet AVA's requirements.

"During our inspections, areas of improvement were highlighted which the slaughterhouse rectified accordingly," she said.

A trial sample batch was also tested at AVA's Veterinary Public Health Laboratory and met food safety requirements.

Austria was also approved as a new source of pork last year and, as of last month, about 175 tonnes of frozen pork from Austria have been exported to Singapore.

Singapore also imported its first batch of beef products from Britain since 1996, in July last year, after it lifted its ban on deboned beef from Britain in September 2013.

As of last month, around 2.5 tonnes of chilled or frozen beef products have been imported from 14 slaughterhouses.

The ban was placed on British beef imports due to the threat of mad cow disease.

At that point, Singapore was importing about 15 tonnes of beef from Britain, which made up about 0.12 per cent of overall beef imports.

The AVA has since found the situation in Britain to be "well-controlled" and the threat of the disease "negligible". It added that as a precaution, it imports only deboned beef from cattle under 30 months of age as they have less nervous tissue, which reduces their risk of contracting the disease.

Its spokesman said the agency will monitor all consignments and take necessary action when there are food-safety lapses.

It will also continue to diversify its food sources.

"By buying from diverse sources, we are better buffered against potential short-term supply disruptions from any one source," she said.

samboh@sph.com.sg