First live pigs from Malaysia in 18 years

AVA inspectors observing the pigs being guided into a pen.
AVA inspectors observing the pigs being guided into a pen. PHOTO: AGRI-FOOD AND VETERINARY AUTHORITY

Singapore received its first shipment of live pigs from Malaysia in 18 years yesterday, after a farm in Sarawak became the only approved source in the country to export live pigs to the Republic.

Its addition makes it Singapore's second source of live pigs, after Pulau Bulan in Indonesia. Live pigs are slaughtered locally and sold as chilled pork.

The import of all live pigs and raw pork from Malaysia has been banned since 1999, when an outbreak of the Nipah virus, which is carried by pigs, killed 100 pig farmers in Malaysia and an abattoir worker here.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said while there have been no reports of new Nipah virus outbreaks in Malaysia, the suspension remains because raw pork from other parts of the country are not free of foot-and-mouth disease.

Processed pork products from approved establishments in Malaysia must be heat-treated to inactivate the disease in order to be permitted for import.

The disease does not have any impact on food safety but the import of animals or meat from affected regions jeopardises Singapore's foot-and-mouth-disease-free status, and may adversely impact export trade, the AVA said.

Sarawak was recognised by the World Organisation for Animal Health as a foot-and-mouth-disease-free region in 2010.

The AVA subsequently assessed the East Malaysian state's animal and veterinary public health programmes and approved it to export frozen pork to Singapore in 2015. This year, it approved a farm there to ship live pigs to Singapore.

"Purchasing from diverse sources provides a crucial buffer against potential short-term overseas food supply disruptions from any one source," the AVA said.

There are currently 24 countries accredited by the AVA to export frozen pork products to Singapore, including Australia, Austria and Brazil. Canada and the United States are among six countries accredited to export chilled pork to Singapore.

Singapore imported 116,700 tonnes of pork last year, with Brazil, Indonesia and Australia making up the top three sources.

Live imports from Indonesia, meanwhile, accounted for 20,300 tonnes the same year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 19, 2017, with the headline 'First live pigs from Malaysia in 18 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe