HK halts pork exports from 20 farms

Top News | Jane Cheung 27 Dec 2018

Twenty of the 154 mainland pig farms supplying pork to the city have suspended supplies as the outbreak of African swine fever continues to spread in Guangdong.

The Hong Kong government said the farms - 17 in Guangdong, two in Jiangxi and one in Hubei - did not suffer from African swine fever and the export suspensions are merely a preventive measure.

Since the first outbreak in Guangdong last week, Shenzhen has been swamped with rumors of suspensions of sales of live pigs and talk of switching to frozen pork.

But Shenzhen authorities rejected the rumors, declaring that the supply of live pigs and fresh pork is stable and that it has 12,900 live pigs in reserve.

This came after mainland agricultural authorities announced a third outbreak of swine fever in Guangdong.

The latest outbreak was at a Boluo farm in Huizhou city. The farm had 90 pigs, among which 11 contracted the virus and died.

The province's center for disease prevention sent supervision teams to the farm to slaughter all remaining pigs plus the more than 1,300 pigs within three kilometers of the farm.

Officers disinfected the site and sealed it off and transported all pork products out of the area.

Authorities did not say the exact location of the infected farm.

Currently, there are four Boluo farms supplying pigs to Hong Kong.

The first cases in Guangdong were found on a Zhuhai farm last week, followed by an outbreak in Guangzhou, which was announced on Sunday.

The General Administration of Customs of China also announced on Tuesday that it had found the swine fever virus in two batches of pig feed, which were ready for export.

The 74 tonnes of pig feed came from 12 slaughter houses in Tianjin.

The seized pig feed is protein supplements made from the blood plasma of pigs, which would strengthen their immunity and stimulate their appetite.

Chan Kin-yip, chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Agricultural Associations, said local farms do not use such pig feed and have been using milk formula for babies.

Pork retailers said business have taken a turn for the worse while restaurants are worried they will have to suspend certain dishes containing pig liver.

However, pork retail prices in local supermarkets and wet markets have remained stable.

An owner of a pork store, surnamed Chan, said he has no plans to adjust prices and is not concerned about pork supply.

"The government makes inspections at the border. I'm not worried about it," he said.

He admitted fewer customers have purchased pork products from him but said it is because of the Christmas holidays.

"It's normal as people choose to dine out," he said.

Mak Kwai-pui, co-founder of Tim Ho Wan, a Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant, said its signature dish - pig liver rice noodle roll - may have to be suspended.

He said its Sham Shui Po flagship store usually orders some 20 kilograms of pig liver every day, but the supply has tightened and it has only managed to get around eight to 12 kilograms a day since last week.

"We used to sell pig liver rice noodle roll the whole day, but they usually easily sell out at 4pm these days," he said.

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