ASF-infected pork imported to Russia from China

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

ASF-infected pork imported to Russia from China

Related tags: Pork

Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said it has discovered the African swine fever (ASF) genome in a batch of pork sausages imported from China.

In a statement on its website on 15 April, the organisation revealed that the contaminated products passed through the border, but never made it to grocery shelves.

The ASF-infected products were imported to the Zabaykalsky Krai region, bordering China, which is one of the few areas of Russia considered ASF-free, according to Rosselkhoznadzor. The presence of the ASF genome meant the products had been manufactured from infected pork, although it was unclear whether such products could provoke an ASF outbreak or not, Rosselkhoznadzor said in an earlier statement.

There is a high risk that ASF could be imported to Russia’s Far East regions, which are still free from the disease, claimed Nikolay Vlasov, deputy director of Rosselkhoznadzor, speaking during a press conference in late 2018. The area has been prone to illegal trafficking of products between the two countries, Vlasov said.

Meanwhile, in China, the ASF virus was recently discovered in Hainan, the last region that had been considered free from the disease. This meant ASF had spread to the country’s entire territory. China’s National Bureau of Statistics estimated that pork production in the country shrank by 5.3% in the first quarter of 2019 and forecast that this could decrease even further in the next few months.

Border lockdown urged

Russian businesses have expressed alarm over the possibility that products containing ASF could be imported to the country. Russia’s National Meat Association (NMA) recently asked the Russian Government to introduce a complete ban on tourists importing meat products for their personal consumption.

Currently, every consumer passing through the Russian border is able to carry up to 5kg of meat products in their luggage. Sergey Yushin, chairman of NMA, said that tourists were one of the main channels for the global spread of ASF. It is believed the waste from these products could end up in landfill, where it could potentially contaminate wild boars.

Russia’s biggest meat producers have supported the proposal. Speaking to Russian newspaper Vedomosti​, Andrey Dalnov, senior analyst at Cherkizovo, claimed it was vital to prohibit tourists from carrying meat into Russia.

Meanwhile, Vadim Dymov, director of major sausage manufacturer Dymov, agreed this would improve protection for the Russian meat industry, but said it was very unlikely that those measures would enhance domestic sales of meat products in the market.

Incidences of products discovered with the ASF genome in Russia have become very common in recent years. Just recently, Rosselkhoznadzor reported a case where ASF-infected sausages were imported from Ukraine. The veterinary body added that the manufacturer of those products remained unknown.

Related topics: Safety & Legislation, Russia, China, Pork

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