African Swine Fever (ASF) and Food Safety

Introduction

African Swine Fever (ASF) is a severe, highly contagious, viral disease affecting pigs, but it does not infect humans and poses no food safety risk. According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, ASF is not a human health threat.

To reduce the risk of ASF intrusion into local pig population, control and surveillance at source are of utmost importance. All imported pigs delivered to slaughterhouses must come from registered pig farms supplying Hong Kong. Pigs have to be segregated to ensure that they are clinically healthy before releasing from the farms. In addition, all pig consignments should be accompanied with valid health certificates issued by the Mainland Customs.

With the implementation of “Daily Clearance” since early June 2019, all live pig admitted to the slaughterhouse will be slaughtered within 24 hours. Lairages at different areas of the slaughterhouse will be cleared and undergo thorough cleansing and disinfection every day. By limiting the period of stay for pigs in the slaughterhouses followed by effective cleansing and disinfection, the risk of ASF infection among pigs inside the slaughterhouses can be minimized.

Given that “Daily Clearance” is in full implementation, if ASF virus is detected in pigs in a local slaughterhouse, closure of the slaughterhouse and culling of all pigs present might not be necessary. After all, only pigs that are fit for human consumption will be released to the market after stringent ante-mortem and post-mortem inspections in slaughterhouses. Pork should be well cooked before consumption.

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