Fresh pork is available again in local markets on Monday as two major slaughterhouses completed disinfection works and reopened over the weekend following a swine flu scare.
At a media briefing on Sunday after attending the first Sham Shui Po Festival, Undersecretary for Food and Health Chui Tak-yi revealed that cleansing and disinfection work at the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse was completed the previous day and that the facility would resume operations.
Meanwhile, disinfection work has also been completed at the Tsuen Wan Slaughterhouse and it is also due to restart normal operations.
The two slaughterhouses have been closed for around a week after authorities uncovered a swine flu case, involving a pig imported from the mainland, at the Sheung Shui facility.
Following the disinfection and other hygiene-related works, about 1,300 pigs from local pig farms have been transferred to the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse and another 600 pigs to the Tsuen Wan facility, according to Chui.
The senior official noted that all live pigs imported from the mainland through the Man Kam To control point will be quarantined, and that those without health certificates will not be allowed to enter Hong Kong.
The Sheung Shui slaughterhouse had been closed for eight days after the government said on May 10 that all pigs at the site would have to be culled so that thorough cleansing and disinfection could be conducted in order to prevent the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus from spreading.
A pig at the slaughterhouse, which the authorities said had been imported from Zhanjiang in China’s Guangdong province, was found to have contracted the ASF, the first such case confirmed in Hong Kong after an outbreak of the disease in the mainland in August last year.
Soon after the revelation, the Tsuen Wan Slaughterhouse also took the initiative to suspend operations and conduct disinfection.
While both slaughterhouses have resumed operations, Hog Kong consumers may have to be prepared for higher prices of fresh pork, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Data unveiled on the website of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department showed that the average selling price of mainland live pigs was HK$2,653 a tam (50kg), or double that seen between May 1 and 10.
Hui Wai-kin, president of the Pork Traders General Association of Hong Kong, said although supply of about 2,600 live pigs was expected on Monday, the number is only 60 percent of that under normal circumstances.
Hui believes pork traders would restrain themselves and do their best to keep the price at an affordable level.
Speaking during an RTHK program on Sunday, Hui expressed concern over the large-scale culling of pigs last week, and said there may have been a communication problem between the government and the pork industry.
It is hoped that the government can consider more thoroughly whether massive culling is necessary if any ASF infection case emerges in the future, Hui said.
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