TAIWAN government officials were out in force throughout the island yesterday eating pork chops and pig knuckles. They were acting under the ruling Kuomintang's orders to restore consumer confidence in pork after a devastating epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease. The move, ordered by President and Kuomintang chairman Lee Teng-hui , came as more than 20 pig auction markets, closed for five days to prevent spread of the disease, reopened under close government supervision. Checkpoints were also operating along highways, where agriculture officials checked lorries. The Government has set up a system under which all pigs must individually be certified as being free of the disease. At one promotional event yesterday in the port of Taichung, hundreds of people jostled in chaotic queues to receive free pork knuckle lunchboxes after days of going without pork. 'Everybody, from today on, don't be afraid to eat pork,' Taichung Mayor Lin Hsueh-cheng told the crowd. 'Pork's the best.' The disease spread throughout the island last week, prompting widespread panic among consumers. The armed forces were mobilised to help slaughter, burn and bury millions of affected pigs - literally every pig in all but two remote counties of the island and an offshore archipelago. Yesterday, agricultural officials continued helping farmers administer imported vaccines to pigs in the few unaffected areas.