China Ramps Up Slaughter Regulations to Control African Swine Fever

Slaughterhouses in China will need to run African swine fever (ASF) virus tests for pig products before selling them to the market, China’s agriculture ministry said on Wednesday.

In a move to control the spread of the highly transmissible disease, slaughterhouses must slaughter the pigs from different origins separately, and can only sell the products if blood from the same batch of pigs is tested negative for ASF virus, according to a new regulation published on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

If an ASF outbreak is discovered, slaughterhouses must cull all pigs to be slaughtered and suspend operations for at least 48 hours, according to the regulation that will go into effect on Feb. 1.

On Wednesday, Reuters also reported a new outbreak of ASF on a farm with 73,000 pigs in Heilongjiang province, the largest farm yet to report a case of this deadly disease. Nearly 4,700 pigs had been infected and 3,766 died.

All animals on infected farms must be culled under current rules. This latest case underlines the increasing severity of the ASF outbreak in China.

“The African swine fever situation is only getting worse. Small farms, big farms, slaughterhouses, feed - the whole production chain basically all got hit,” said Yao Guiling, an analyst with consultancy China-America Commodity Data Analytics. “The policies are good, but the increasing outbreaks show that there might be some problem with execution at the local government level.”

To help control the disease, Beijing has banned feeding kitchen waste to pigs and restricted transport of live pigs and products from infected areas.

Despite measures to slow the spread of this deadly disease, it has now hit 23 provinces and municipalities across China, since the first outbreak was reported in early August last year. China has reported more than 90 cases of the incurable disease, leading to the culling of more than 200,000 pigs on infected farms, and hundreds of thousands more in neighboring areas. The disease is deadly for pigs but does not harm humans.

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