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Taiwanese Hog Traceability System To Be In Place By June

by 5m Editor
16 February 2007, at 11:52am

TAIWAN - A hog traceability system will be introduced by the end of June as part of the government's efforts to prevent sick and dead hogs from being illegally processed into edible pork products, Cabinet spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang said Thursday.

Premier Su Tseng-chang gave the directive after a Council of Agriculture (COA) official delivered a report on stepping up supervision of pork production to ensure food sanitation at a weekly Cabinet meeting the day before, Cheng said.

According to Cheng, the premier also ordered the COA to flesh out measures for stricter control of sick and dead hogs, including encouraging hog farmers to join a national hog insurance program to secure compensation in the event of the death of their hogs.

With consumers getting increasingly critical of food quality and hygiene, Premier Su said relevant government agencies should initiate new measures and new systems to streamline management of farm produce production and marketing.

Su also said that a farm produce traceability system should be introduced and promoted throughout the country, according to Cheng.

Compared with other farm products, it should be easier to implement a traceability system for hogs, Su said, adding that technical details for implementing the system should be in place by the end of June.

Su said that under the new system, each package of pork products should have a label explaining where the hog was reared, as well as information about the farm and the breed.

According to COA tallies, Taiwan produces about 9 million hogs annually. To strengthen management, Su said the hog insurance system should be expanded to cover as many hogs as possible.

The COA has come up with a plan to set up a special fund, with money provided by hog farmers and relevant government agencies, to subsidize farmers in case their insured hogs die. The subsidy may reach about 70 percent of the market price of the dead hog.

According to a COA plan, the current hog insurance program will be expanded to cover up to 5.7 million hogs raised in 18 cities and counties around the island by the end of this year. In the future, COA officials said, all of the hogs raised in the country will be covered by the insurance program.

Meanwhile, the premier asked law enforcement authorities to speed up investigations into suspicious trade in sick and dead hogs and bring to justice all those involved. Unscrupulous dealers should be harshly punished and fined, while areas where relatively large quantities of suspicious pork products have been uncovered should be listed for intensified monitoring and crackdown, Su said.

The issue of sick and dead hogs being sold on the market has drawn the public's attention after substandard pork products were uncovered in certain southern counties earlier this month. Key government agencies have reached an agreement to list sick and dead hogs as waste subject to stringent regulation.

The Environmental Protection Administration is working on a set of rules to better govern the disposal of sick and dead hogs. For its part, the COA will coordinate with county and city governments to establish an orderly hog production and sale system. And the Department of Health will step up its crackdown on illegal pork processing plants, inspections on downstream pork vendors and probes into the sources of suspicious meat products used for human consumption.