Improved FMD status endorsed for 4 countries

Improved FMD status endorsed for 4 countries

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For Brazil, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, and Taiwan, foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) status has been officially endorsed; for Taiwan, the decision brings the prospect of a resumption of pork exports.

Members of the World Assembly of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) this week recognized changes to the official status of three states regarding foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

In a move anticipated last week, the OIE has recognized Taiwan as free of FMD without the use of vaccination.

Also receiving recognition from the OIE as FMD free but with vaccination were one zone of Brazil, and four regions of Colombia. At the same time, OIE recognized Kyrgyzstan’s official FMD control program.

Adapting its regular procedures to take account of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, OIE said its resolutions on selected diseases — including FMD — have been maintained. Based on the important role that these diseases play in the import-export economies of member countries, OIE continues procedures relating to disease status.

Recognition by the World Assembly is considered after member countries apply for changes to their status regarding six priority diseases, according to the OIE.

Taiwan’s progress to FMD freedom

Newly declared FMD free without vaccination are Taiwan and the offshore counties of Penghu and Matsu, reports Focus Taiwan. This change in status was announced on social media by the president of the Council of Agriculture (COA) this week.

Only the status of outlying island Kinmen remains unchanged. Here, freedom from FMD will continue through the practice of vaccination. This was the status of the whole of Taiwan until the latest OIE resolution. It led to heavy restrictions on Taiwan’s pig meat exports, with only selected products accepted by a very few importing countries.

In 1997, an FMD outbreak brought to an abrupt halt pork exports that had been worth around TWD60 billion (US$2 billion), according to the COA. In response, a vaccination program was established, and it was effective. In 2003, Taiwan regained its status as FMD-free, but with vaccination. Attempts to end FMD inoculation in 2009 were thwarted by several new outbreaks of the disease.

Last cases of FMD in Taiwan, Penghu and Matsu occurred in 2013, leading to the re-establishment of their FMD-free status with vaccination in 2017. An outbreak in Kinmen in 2015 resulted in this county only regaining its status in May 2018.

According to Focus Taiwan, Taiwan began a program to cease FMD vaccination nationwide in 2018 — except for Kinmen. Last year, it applied to the OIE for FMD-free status.

Pork exports set to resume

As a result of the OIE resolution, Taiwan hopes that markets will soon open again for its pork after a break of 24 years.

Fresh and processed pig meat products will soon be destined for new markets, reports Taiwan News. COA minister Chen Chi-chung identified Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau as likely future markets for Taiwanese products.

For Taiwan’s pig sector, Chen stressed that current goals are the continued exclusion of African swine fever, and the elimination of other diseases.

If successful, Chen said that Taiwanese pork products could enter the Japanese and U.S. markets.

Taiwan’s pork is competitive on global markets, according to the COA. Focus Taiwan reports that, once markets in Japan and Southeast Asia have reopened to Taiwanese fresh pork exports, the trade could be valued at TWD10 billion (US$338 million).