Wednesday, December 11

Better safe than sorry

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Authority to remove China luncheon pork brand from shelves as precaution to maintain state’s ASF-free status

A supermarket worker takes a look at cans of luncheon meat from China which, along with other canned pork products from the country, were still available at some stores in Kuching yesterday.

KUCHING: A luncheon pork brand that was found to be positive with African Swine Fever (ASF) will be removed from the market as soon as possible as a precautionary measure, said Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) Sarawak director Dr Adrian Susin Ambud.

He said the trace of DNA detected in the said product was an inactivated virus, and reiterated the state was still free from ASF.

“Only one product is positive with ASF and we will remove the product from the shelf as soon as possible as we just want to reduce the risk from that product.

“We have tested some other products as well, but they were ASF negative. Not all are affected, so it does not affect our (Sarawak) status yet. We are still free from ASF,” he said following a press conference by Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn on the Sarawak Agrofest 2019 event, here yesterday.

Sagah, when responding to the same issue, said although ASF does not affect human beings, it can affect the state’s livestock industry, particularly pigs.

This was the reason why the government, through DVS Sarawak, had issued a statement on Sunday announcing the ban on imports of any pork products from China and some European countries affected by the disease, he added.

He said DVS Sarawak would continue to take samples from all pork products from China and issue statements if any products are found to be ASF-positive.

Sagah said the ban and removal of ASF-positive products was to make sure Sarawak, which is still free from foot-and-mouth disease, swine fever and avian flu, is also free from ASF.

DVS Sarawak in a statement Sunday announced the ban on imports of canned pork products from China after one sample from a canned luncheon pork brand was found with the ASF virus.

The department had recently conducted tests on 17 canned luncheon pork products imported from China for the virus, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, a visit by The Borneo Post yesterday to several grocery stores and supermarkets here found canned pork products from China had yet to be removed from their shelves.

The staffers, who all spoke on the condition of anonymity, said while aware of the import ban, they were unsure if it was extended to the sale of products already in the state as there was no notice from the authorities.

“We heard about the ban but are not clear or sure about it. We continue to sell them (China canned pork products) because only through proper directives from relevant authorities, then will we stop selling them,” said one staffer of a grocery store at King Centre here, adding the store has not received any directive to remove the products.

One shopkeeper in the same commercial area said she will immediately remove all China canned pork products from her store if such a directive is issued as she does not want to sell anything that could endanger the health of the public.

She also mentioned that canned pork products from China are among her ‘bestsellers’ with her customers, who are mostly from residential areas near King Centre.