Improvement of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine
Measures to ensure the safety of agro-products
To prevent risk to the health of citizens as a result of chemical residues in food, we have continued to carry out testing for chemical residues in aquaculture products (including testing for heavy metals), veterinary pharmaceuticals, animal feed, and farm products. In 2012 we conducted (a) 37,000 tests for residues of veterinary pharmaceuticals is livestock and poultry, (b)1,421 tests for chemical residues or heavy metals in aquaculture products, (c) 2,035 rapid screenings for chemical residues in seafood sold at seafood markets, (d) 1,702 tests of samples of animal feed (both from factories and from individual households who make their own) for antibiotics, and (e) 385 tests of samples of fish feed. We also conducted chemical residue tests in the fields and at warehouses, testing over 11,000 samples of fruit and vegetables, 2,019 of tea, and 1,038 of rice; in addition we conducted over 390,000 biochemical tests. All cases in which tests revealed sub-standard items were referred for the appropriate investigation and punishment, and the COA stepped up guidance and correction of offenders.
The COA also met with local governments and prosecutorial and police agencies to investigate and stop the use of unlawful veterinary pharmaceuticals or fake and harmful agro-chemicals. In 2012 inspections were conducted on 3,639 occasions on veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturers, sellers, and end users (i.e. livestock farms). We handled 57 cases of suspected illegal sale of veterinary pharmaceuticals reported via the Internet, and fines totaling NT$3.285 million were handed out in 38 of those cases. We investigated 11 cases involving unlawful manufacture or sale of fake or banned agro- products, and confiscated 1.2 metric tons of concentrates, finished products, semi- finished products, and raw materials.
To ensure that poultry is safe and hygienic, the COA’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) has continued to play a key advisory role in the establishment and certification of poultry slaughterhouses. In 2012 nine slaughterhouses received registration and certifications, 14 earned documentation agreeing to their establishment, and 11 were being assisted to complete their facility blueprints. By the end of 2012, there were 75 poultry slaughterhouses in the country.
The Fisheries Agency, with the aim of assisting operators in both the long-range and coastal fishing industries to export their products to Europe, has been doing evaluations of sanitation on fishing vessels and has been training captains in meeting sanitation standards. Thus far a total of 116 fishing vessels have passed sanitation inspections and 188 captains have completed training.
Animal and plant disease prevention and quarantine inspection
A core role of the COA has always been to prevent damage from diseases or pests that affect livestock or crops. In 2012 we continued to improve our disease monitoring and early warning measures. Taiwan remains an area free of major diseases or pests such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), rabies, and the Mediterranean fruit fly.
To prevent the occurrence of highly pathogenic avian influenza in domestic areas, we have monitored poultry farms, migratory birds, and resident birds. In 2012, we inspected/monitored 1,156 poultry farms and90 hog farms, and tested 4,086 samples taken from migratory birds.
To prevent invasion by exotic pests, we assigned 39 quarantine detector dog teams to international portals (airports, harbors and the mail center). In 2012 they intercepted 54,000 items totaling 55.6 metric tons. Moreover, through the Executive Yuan’s Ankang Special Program, the COA assisted relevant agencies to incinerate smuggled animals or animal products confiscated by the authorities. In 2012 about 7,000 kilograms were confiscated, and 304 animals were incinerated. On July 7, a visitor coming into Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport from Macao was found to be smuggling 38 ornamental birds, which tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza; the inspectors thus prevented the entry of avian influenza into Taiwan before any harm was done.
Moreover, the COA has been conducting quarantine treatments and inspections in order to help domestic agro-businesses to export agricultural products to international markets. In 2012, 2,162 metric tons of mango, papaya, and other fresh fruits were exported to the US, Japan, Korea, and Australia. In addition, Phalaenopsis orchids with growth media from Taiwan which met import quarantine requirements were exported to the US, Korea, Canada and Australia; in 2012 Taiwan exported 22.22 million plants to those four countries.
Sanitation in the slaughtering process
To ensure sanitation in slaughtering, in 2012 the COA employed 514 certified meat inspectors to conduct inspections in licensed slaughterhouses nationwide. Moreover, official veterinarians of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) and its branch offices continually conducted unscheduled on-site inspections. In 2012 our inspectors checked 8.75 million livestock animals as well as more than 260 million poultry. Animals or animal parts found to be sub-standard were incinerated. Such measures ensure that meat unsafe for human consumption does not reach the market, providing a staunch barrier to ensure food safety for consumers.