AFRICAN SWINE FEVER FEARS: The Taipei Customs Office said that it found 108kg of illegally imported pork in inbound air mail received since September
By Yao Chieh-hsiu / Staff reporter
In a bid to keep African swine fever at bay, legislative efforts are being made to levy a maximum fine of NT$300,000 on those who attempt to illegally carry meat products through customs.
An African swine fever outbreak was reported in China on Aug. 3 and it spread to 14 Chinese provinces and cities, marking the first-ever outbreak of the disease in Asia.
The Taipei Customs Office said that in inbound air mail received since September it found 75 cases of illegally imported pork, totaling 108kg, and for which the office handed out fines totaling NT$357,000.
The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said that it had drawn up a plan to raise the fine to deter people from illegally bringing meat products into the nation.
Article 45-1 of the Act for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease （動物傳染病防治條例） stipulates a fine of between NT$3,000 and NT$15,000 for people illegally bringing meat products into the nation, the bureau said.
The Executive Yuan’s Legal Affairs Committee has approved a draft amendment to the act, which seeks to raise the maximum fine to NT$300,000.
It is expected to take effect early next year if passed by the legislature, it said.
Taipei Deputy Chief Customs Officer Lin Kun-lung （林?龍） said the 108kg of pork found in the customs’ air express zone contained sausages, cured pork, pork floss and tendons, adding that most of the illegal products had been purchased online.
The office in August and September found 38 cases of illegally imported meat products and levied a fine of NT$15,000, Lin said.
During last month alone, the office found 37 cases, collecting a total of NT$243,000 in fines, he said.
People who purchase meat products online should duly declare them to customs offices to avoid breaking the law, he said.
Aside from administrative penalties, people who contravene the act to illegally import meat products risk incurring a criminal record, he added.
A box of vacuum-packed beef tendons smuggled in a courier package and detected by customs officers at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is pictured in an undated photograph. Photo copied by Tony Yao, Taipei Times