On March 15, 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it intercepted a large shipment of illegal pork products from China before it could enter the United States. The contraband shipment, which will be safely and securely destroyed in accordance with U.S. government policy, reportedly contained products derived from pork, such as flavorings in ramen noodles, and did not include fresh meat. It is illegal to import pork products from countries, like China, that are positive for African swine fever (ASF), a disease that only affects pigs and that poses no human health or food safety risks, to the United States. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) issued the following statement.
“Preventing the spread of African swine fever to the United States is our top priority. We are thankful to CBP and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their increased vigilance and the expanded resources they have put in place to prevent ASF’s spread to the United States, a development that would threaten animal health and immediately close our export markets at a time when we are already facing serious trade headwinds.
“Illegal import/export activities like this can’t stand and must be met with swift and severe penalties to discourage others from attempting to transport contraband products across our borders. Prevention of ASF is our only defense; we must remain on high alert at our airports and sea ports to prevent the illegal entry of meat products and be diligent in our farm biosecurity protocols. We are hopeful that others considering illegal import/export activity like this will take note of the severe consequences.
“Along with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, National Pork Board and the Swine Health Information Center, NPPC continues to work closely with U.S. government officials to strengthen safeguards against the spread of ASF and other animal diseases.”