Singapore closes its door to imported pork due to African swine fever outbreak

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Singapore suspends the importation of pork and all pork products following China’s confirmation of nearly 100 cases of African swine fever across 23 provinces since August 2018. The announcement came from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) Friday (Jan 4).

According to AVA, only processed pork products that have been heat-treated are allowed to get inside the country.

The disease has been detected at a slaughterhouse in Zhengzhou City, Henan Province and Jiangsu Province, in the Laiyungang District of Hai Ling. “To mitigate the risk of incursion of ASF (African swine fever), AVA requires countries exporting raw pork to Singapore to be free from it.”

Authorities 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 the region could have an impact on trade for countries in Asia.”

Singapore imports 4% of its total live, chilled frozen, processed and canned pork supply from China. Other countries that Singapore imports pork from include the United States, 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. It 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.

In 2017, China imported about three million tons of pork. The country which accounts for half of the world’s pork consumption, has been rebuilding its herd of pigs following widespread culling in 2014 when prices were low.

The Brazilian meat scandal which exploded in March 2017 emphasized the value of guaranteeing the safety of imported food in various countries including Singapore.

With the city-state importing large amounts of meat every year, authorities are exerting effort to see to it that food are safe for consumption

According to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), the answer lies in stringent checks that are not just carried out in Singapore but also in the country where the food source comes from.