Importer assures it's unaffected by pork ban

One of the country's largest importers of frozen and chilled pork says a ban on importation of pork products from countries affected by African Swine Fever (A.S.F.) is unlikely to affect its product range. 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F.) announced the ban with immediate effect last Friday. The fatal virus has killed tens of millions of pigs in China and spread to more than a dozen other countries. 

The Ministry says any importation of pork products from A.S.F. affected countries will not be authorised entry into Samoa.

The ban also calls for pork products from A.S.F.-affected countries currently on sale to be removed from shelves immediately. 

A total of 26 countries have been affected by the disease, for which there is no cure, the M.A.F. clarified on Friday. The disease has spread from east Asia to as far west as Belgium. 

Ah Liki Wholesale General Manager, Asiata Alex Brunt, noted that the M.A.F. notice only affected products originating from countries affected by the disease.

He explained that a letter from the Ministry on 26 March, 2020 had attached the photos of the brand of the main Chinese pork products, mainly canned pork luncheon meat. 

“These products are usually cooked inside the can at around 120 degrees over two to three hours to kill any bacteria that meat may carry,” he added. 

But Asiata pointed out that the company does not import frozen or chilled pork products from China. 

“The only countries we import frozen or chilled pork products from are New Zealand, Australia and the United States of America," he said. 

“These countries are not affected by the A.S.F. Any other pork products manufactured in countries not listed as having A.S.F. are permitted to be sold and should not be deemed to have A.S.F.” 

The restricted measures issued by M.A.F. follows a Cabinet directive issued on 18 March 2020 noting the risk to Samoa’s biosecurity. 

The Ministry states that any permit issued prior to the notice which allowed importation of pork and/or pork products is now varied to comply with this Notice pursuant to section 12(4) of the Quarantine (Biosecurity) Act 2005. 

All expenses associated with the re-shipment or destruction of the consignment will be borne solely by the importer. 

Those who breach the conditions of importation and sale will be in contravention of the Quarantine (Biosecurity) Act 2005 and the Ministry may exercise its legal rights to enforce compliance.

“Any non-compliance will result in 100 per cent seizure of regulated articles by the Ministry may result in charges being laid under the Quarantine (Biosecurity) Act 2005.”

The Ministry is undertaking samples of pork products being imported to test for the presence of A.S.F. 

On Monday it was reported that the Cabinet is considering purchasing a testing machine with the capability of testing for the disease. 

The M.A.F. Chief Executive Officer, Tilafono David Hunter, said the suspension of the pork products sale was to protect the vulnerable local pork industry from the highly infectious disease.

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