March 16, 2019 / 2:54 PM / 11 days ago

U.S. seizes 1 million pounds of pork from China on swine fever concerns

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. border agents have seized around 1 million pounds of pork from China, a spokesman for the agency said on Friday, over suspicions that it might contain African swine flu disease which has hit Chinese pork output.

Federal agents have seized the supplies over the past week in New York.

“The seizure was in an effort to battle the spread of African swine fever,” Anthony L. Bucci, Public Affairs Specialist at U. S. Customs and Border Protection, told Reuters over email.

Asked if the seized pork had African swine fever, Bucci said, “This is an ongoing investigation,” and added that the federal agents were working with U.S. Department of Agriculture on the issue.

China, home to the world’s largest hog herd, has reported 112 outbreaks of the highly contagious disease in 28 provinces and regions since August, with the vast majority found on farms, with one at a slaughterhouse.

The disease can kill hogs in just two days, but is not harmful to people. About 1 million pigs have been culled so far in an effort to try to control the spread.

Hog prices in China hit their highest in 14 months this week as the spread of the disease reduces output.

U.S. officials decided to ramp up their fight to avoid the virus after Vietnam confirmed its first cases last month.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it will add more dogs to sniff out illegal pork products at airports and seaports in an effort to keep out the contagious hog disease that has spread across Asia and Europe.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in Washington and Tom Polansek in Chicago; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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