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Pork from China caused African swine fever outbreak in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) pointed to smuggled pork from China as the culprit behind the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in the Philippines.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a press briefing on Monday, November 4, that illegal shipments seized by authorities at the Port of Manila last October were a clear indication that the virus originated from China.

Last month, shipments from China were declared as tomato paste and vermicelli, but were later discovered to be pork upon physical inspection. Tests then confirmed that the meat was positive for ASF.

Dar went on to say that these products were likely dumped in Rodriguez, Rizal, where local hog raisers fed the infected meat to pigs. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Dealing with the African swine fever outbreak)

China's swine herd is down by about 40%, and the shortage has caused prices to soar.

The shortage is being exacerbated by stuttering imports from the United States due to the lingering trade war.

A Rabobank report warned China could lose 200 million pigs during the epidemic, with some farmers fearing that the figures are actually much higher.

Philippine authorities previously said that canned and processed meat from overseas Filipino workers who went home as well as hotel food waste were the causes of the outbreak. Officials did not categorically name countries then.

Government agencies are now eyeing pressing charges against traders. Smuggling probes are within the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Customs. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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