AVA suspends pork import from areas in China with African swine fever outbreaks

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority has suspended the import of pork and pork products from areas in China with African swine fever outbreaks.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority has suspended the import of pork and pork products from areas in China with African swine fever outbreaks.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has suspended the import of pork and pork products from areas in China with African swine fever outbreaks.

This comes after China has been experiencing an epidemic of the disease. China confirmed about 100 cases of African swine fever across 23 provinces since August last year, reported Reuters.

According to a Reuters tally of official figures on Thursday (Jan 3), 200,000 pigs on infected farms in China have been culled. Hundreds of thousands more in the vicinity of those farms have also been put down.

Only processed pork products from approved establishments in affected areas that have been heat-treated to inactivate the disease are allowed to be imported, said an AVA spokesman on Friday.

AVA has suspended the import of pork and pork products from Anhui, Fujian, Henan, Hunan, Henan and Zhejiang provinces and the municipality of Shanghai since August 2018.

The provinces of Jiangsu, Liaoning and Sichuan were also affected by African swine fever and have previously been suspended due to foot and mouth disease, the spokesman said.

The spokesman said: "While African swine fever is a highly virulent and contagious disease of pigs, it is not zoonotic (does not infect humans). However, the introduction of the virus to this region could have an impact on trade for countries in Asia."

"To mitigate the risk of incursion of African swine fever, AVA requires countries exporting raw pork to Singapore to be free from it," she added.

AVA requires countries exporting pork to Singapore to be free from African swine fever for six months immediately prior to the date of slaughter of the animals and the date of export of the pork and pork products to Singapore.

The suspension will be lifted if these requirements are met, said the AVA spokesman in an update on Jan 11.

Singapore imports 4 per cent of its total live, chilled frozen, processed and canned pork supply from China.

Other countries that Singapore imports pork from include the US, New Zealand, Australia and Canada, according to the AVA website.

Hence, there is minimal impact on the supply of pork and pork products to Singapore, said AVA.

The spokesman added that AVA will continue to monitor developments and take further action if necessary.

African swine fever, which originated in Africa, does not affect humans but causes haemorrhagic fever in domesticated pigs and wild boar that is nearly always fatal.

There is no antidote or vaccine, and the only known preventive measure is a mass cull of infected livestock, reported AFP.

The Guardian reported in October that 19 countries were affected by the disease in 2018.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, apart from China, there were reported outbreaks of African swine fever in countries such as Belgium, Hungary, Russia and Romania in Nov 2018.