Date
20 September 2019
Pork supply from the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse will be suspended for a week as authorities undertake large-scale culling and conduct cleaning and disinfection work after an imported animal was found infected with swine flu. Photo: CNSA
Pork supply from the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse will be suspended for a week as authorities undertake large-scale culling and conduct cleaning and disinfection work after an imported animal was found infected with swine flu. Photo: CNSA

Swine flu case prompts cull of 6,000 pigs in Sheung Shui

Authorities began culling pigs at the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse on Monday after an animal at the site was found to have contracted the African Swine Fever (ASF), the first such case confirmed in Hong Kong after an outbreak of the disease in the mainland in August last year.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department revealed on Friday that the ASF virus was found in a pig at the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse. The hog had been imported from Zhanjiang in China’s Guangdong province, according to the department.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee told the media Friday night that all pigs in Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse would be culled so that thorough cleansing and disinfection could be conducted, in order to minimize the risk of ASF virus spreading from the facility.

“We would like to reiterate that ASF will not be transmitted to humans, and hence poses no food safety risk. Well-cooked pork is safe for consumption,” Chan said.

Following a meeting with pork traders on Sunday, the government announced that an agreement was reached over the cull of some 6,000 pigs at Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse.

Based on the agreement, affected pork traders could be compensated HK$20 million in total.

According to a spokesman for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), 2,916 pigs at the slaughter house were culled as of 9 pm on Monday, and roughly another 3,600 would be similarly handled from 8 am on Tuesday.

As culling began, representatives from an animal rights concern group, Hong Kong Pig Save, were present at the site to see if the pigs were being put down in a humane way.

The FEHD claimed that the pigs in question were electrocuted in the same way as the current slaughtering practice, adding that doing so was consistent with what the World Organization for Animal Health suggests.

The dead pigs were sent to an area designated by the Environmental Protection Department in the Northeast New Territories Landfill in Ta Kwu Ling, where disinfectant powder was sprayed on them.

The FEHD spokesperson noted that the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse will not reopen until after at least two operations of thorough cleansing and disinfection were conducted and also strict examinations by veterinarians, so as to make sure that all possible sources for latent sources of ASF virus were eliminated.

As such, the spokesperson expects the whole process to take about seven days, meaning pork supply from the slaughterhouse will not resume until Monday next week.

A pork stall owner told HKEJ that the week-long suspension of fresh pork is likely to result in business losses of more than HK$100,000 for him.

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