Taiwan to ban slaughter of live fowl in markets
Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture (COA) will completely prohibit slaughtering live fowl in traditional markets all around the country starting June 17, the Central Epidemic Command Center for H7N9 influenza announced yesterday.
The COA said that there are a total of 79 slaughterhouses nationwide that will take up the task.
Huang Guo-ching, the deputy director of the COA, said that people who violate the new regulation will be fined from NT$20,000 to NT$100,000 (US$669-3,345.02), as stipulated by the Animal Industry Act.
“According to statistics from the COA,” Huang said, “there are approximately 330,000 chickens butchered daily, and among them 20,000 chickens are slaughtered in traditional markets.”
Chang Feng-yih, the commander of the Central Epidemic Command Center for H7N9 influenza, said that banning the killing of live fowl in traditional markets will help protect vendors and consumers from being potentially affected by bird flu.
“Banning the slaughter of live fowl in traditional markets is the most effective way to isolate humans from the bird flu virus,” said Chang.
Huang said that even though there are some counties and cities that do not have legal slaughterhouses, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine will introduce business owners to the slaughterhouses in nearby cities or counties.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the number of vendors slaughtering fowl has decreased from 1,686 in 2010 to 1,051 currently, suggesting people’s purchasing habits have changed.
Chen Bao-ji, minister of the COA, has recently communicated with the Poultry Association regarding the upcoming regulation, and has planned to have meetings with all local governments to discuss further details.
Huang said that this new regulation could be executed earlier than the scheduled date of June 17 if the government finds H7N9 influenza in migratory birds or other fowl in Taiwan, or if a local case of H7N9 is confirmed.
Ho Mei-shang, a research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Biomedical Sciences, said that after Shanghai shut down its live animal market on April 6, there have been no new H7N9 influenza cases reported in the city, which proves that it was an effective method of epidemic prevention.
According to the COA, the council has tested over 25,000 migratory birds, fowl and slaughterhouses from January to March and has not yet found any positive cases of H7N9 influenza.