While China’s pig farms are battling a new variant of African swine fever, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is doing its best to keep potentially infected Chinese pork products from coming into the United States.
Agricultural specialists at the Louisville Port of Entry intercepted several shipments containing pork products not declared in boxes between August 20 and August 28. In total, 13 shipments from the same corporation in Hong Kong, headed to the same company in Bellrose, New York, were intercepted.
Each shipment contained pork items, but some of the shipments also included poultry products, and one included another prohibited food. In total, 1,104 pounds of pork, 298 pounds of poultry, and 88 pounds of prohibited foods were seized. The food was destroyed.
Pork products in Hong Kong are prohibited due to concerns surrounding not only ASF, but classical swine fever and swine vesicular disease found in the region. Because of the presence of these three swine diseases and their potential to impact U.S. pork producers, all pork products from Hong Kong are prohibited.
Additionally, concerns surrounding highly pathogenic avian influenza and virulent Newcastle disease have led to the prohibition of poultry products.
“Louisville’s CBP Agriculture Specialists are focused on their mission to prevent entry of prohibited items from entering the United States,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke of the Chicago Field Office. “These seizures clearly show how critical their role is in preventing diseases from entering the United States.”
The incurable disease is not present in the U.S., but the deadly disease has impacted the global pork industry for years, causing billions of dollars in market losses.
While not a threat to human health, ASF in the U.S. could prove to be economically disastrous. The United States exports about 28 percent of the pork produced here. If ASF enters feral hog populations or domestic production, there will be an immediate halt to exports.
Since its introduction into Europe in 2007, and the European Union in 2014, ASF has continued to spread through wild and domestic pig populations at a rate of 1-2 km per month.
Yesterday, the first case of ASF in Sweden was discovered in a sample from a dead wild boar in the county of Västmanland. Samples from other wild boars found dead in the Fagersta area have been sent for testing — but officials believe that the infection was introduced through human activity.
The Swedish sow population includes about 130,000 sows and around three million piglets that are reared annually to market weight.
In June, Chinese scientists said they had identified a new strain of ASF that was possibly a hybrid of the genotype II strain that caused the 2018 outbreak of ASF that began in China and a more recent but less deadly strain identified in 2021.
Despite the attempts by a Hong Kong company to import pork products, China is no stranger to shutting down imports. As outbreaks spread in other countries last year, China shut down pork imports from European countries such as Germany.
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