Kinmen islanders protest meat product ban

TAIPEI - Around 70 local manufacturers yesterday protested in Kinmen against the Council of Agriculture's ban on the transport or sale of cloven-hoofed animals, as well as fresh and processed products from Kinmen, according to the COA.

Chang Su-san, director-general of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine yesterday met with Kinmen County Magistrate Chen Fu-hai, to discuss the ban on Kinmen's products being transported or sold to other parts of Taiwan.

According to the COA, Chang promised to hold a meeting with experts on May 13, to discuss whether processed meat products could be removed from the list of products prohibited to be sold.

While Chang met Chen on Kinmen yesterday, Kinmen councilors and local manufacturers held a press conference at the Legislative Yuan.

Hosted by DPP Legislator Chen Ou-po, participants chewed beef jerky at the scene, demonstrating their claim that Kinmen processed meat products are safe to consume, with or without foot and mouth disease (FMD) infections.

Moreover, councilors said that the BAPHIQ discovered in the inspected specimen was type-A foot and mouth (FMD) viral nucleic acid, a trace that has yet to be confirmed to be the type-A virus.

According to the COA, a viral nucleic acid extraction test should be undergone to confirm whether it is certainly the type-A virus.

Legislator Chen said that the COA is over-reacting, and that the ban is causing great harm to Kinmen's economy.

Meat Ban Will Cause Kinmen a NT$700-mil. Economic Loss: county

The Kinmen County Government yesterday forecast a total economic loss of NT$700 million if the current ban on Kinmen's fresh and processed meat products continues.

In response, the deputy director-general of the BAPHIQ, Shih Tai-hua, said that the infected specimen has been sent to the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) for viral nucleic acid extraction tests, and that results should come out within a week.

Moreover, Shih said that in 1997, the destructive type-O FMD outbreak in Taiwan resulted in a total economic loss of NT$170 billion.

As the vaccine for type-O FMD is ineffective when applied to the type-A FMD virus, the nation cannot afford risking type-A FMD spreading to stock farms in any other parts of Taiwan, Shih said.

He added that the ban will remain as currently issued, barring all transport or sale of cloven-hoofed animals as well as fresh and processed products from Kinmen until May 2016.

According to the COA, all cloven-hoofed animals within a 1-kilometer radius have been inspected by the Kinmen County Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection, and that no more cases of infection were discovered, officials added.