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    May 18, 2015

    First batch of frozen pork from Malaysia since 1999

    FROZEN pork from Malaysia is back in markets here, marking the loosening of an import ban on the product after more than a decade.

    The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) recently approved the import of frozen pork from one slaughterhouse in Sarawak.

    The first consignment arrived here in February and, as of last month, about 9 tonnes of frozen pork products have been imported from there.

    The ban on the import of live pigs and raw pork from Malaysian was introduced in 1999, after an outbreak of the Nipah virus. The virus, which is carried by pigs, killed 100 Malaysian pig farmers and an abattoir worker here.

    A spokesman for AVA said Sarawak's state animal and veterinary public health programmes were assessed, and inspections were conducted at the pig farming area and slaughterhouse to ensure that their bio-security control measures and hygiene standards meet AVA's requirements.

    "During our inspections, areas of improvement were highlighted, which the slaughterhouse rectified accordingly," she said.

    A trial sample batch was also tested at AVA's Veterinary Public Health Laboratory and met food-safety requirements.

    Austria was also approved as a new source of pork last year and, as of last month, about 175 tonnes of frozen pork from Austria have been exported to Singapore.

    In April last year, Singapore imported its first batch of beef products from Britain since 1996, after AVA lifted its ban on deboned beef from Britain in September 2013.

    Over the last year, around 2.5 tonnes of chilled or frozen beef products have been imported from 15 slaughterhouses.

    The ban had been placed on British beef imports due to the threat of mad cow disease. At that point, Singapore was importing about 15 tonnes of beef from Britain, which made up about 0.12 per cent of overall beef imports.

    AVA has since found the situation in Britain to be "well-controlled" and the threat of the disease "negligible". It added that, as a precaution, it allows the import of only deboned beef from cattle under 30 months of age as they have less nervous tissue, which reduces their risk of contracting the disease.

    The spokesman said the agency will monitor all consignments and take the necessary action when there are food-safety lapses.

    It will also continue to diversity its food sources.

    "By buying from diverse sources, we are better buffered against potential short-term supply disruptions from any one source," she said.