African swine fever found in Chinese frozen pork dumplings, but you can still buy them
- Traces of virus found in products made by Sanquan Foods, but only online retailers withdraw them from sale
- Disease is not harmful to humans but has had a devastating effect on China’s pork industry, with 1 million pigs culled
Frozen pork dumplings made by a company in central China have been withdrawn from sale online after authorities found they contained traces of the African swine fever virus, according to local media reports.
The food safety regulator in Xiangxi prefecture, Hunan province, found the contamination in three samples of dumplings made by Henan-based Sanquan Foods, the mainland China-based China Times reported on Sunday.
The affected products had been produced by a subsidiary based in Henan province, it said.
Meanwhile, The Beijing News reported on Sunday that food safety authorities in northwest China’s Gansu province had identified traces of the virus in several pork products made by a number of companies, although the findings were only preliminary.
The reports come as China continues to fight a nationwide epidemic that has devastated the nation’s pork industry and seen more than 1 million pigs culled since August.
While African swine fever is not harmful to humans, it is lethal to pigs and spreads rapidly. Its presence in food produced for human consumption is a problem as food waste is a major vector for the disease.
In September, the government issued new rules banning the use of waste food in pig feed in a bid curb the spread of the virus, which has been detected in scores of farms in more than 20 provinces.
A report by news website Jiemian.com on Sunday said that the discovery in Xiangxi was made on February 9 and that the three “infected” samples were all from the same batch manufactured in mid-January.
Sanquan Foods told China News Service on Friday that it was aware of online reports about the test results but had not received any formal notification of the findings from the authorities.
The Jiemian report said that although the dumplings had been withdrawn from sale by all major online retailers they were still widely available in brick-and-mortar stores and supermarkets across the country, including in Beijing, Xian, Shenzhen and Kunming.
Sichuan province-based Anjing Foods reported last month that traces of the African swine fever virus had been found in its meatballs.
Zhao Lianbin, a pig farmer in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, was quoted in the Jiemian report as saying that containing the spread of the disease had been made more difficult by unscrupulous farmers who continued to sell their meat despite the government clampdown.
“The operators of some small farms evade detection by the quarantine departments by keeping off the main roads and away from the checkpoints. It’s virtually impossible for the authorities [to catch them],” he said.