Ukraine may begin consuming ASF-infected meat

17-09-2019 | | |
Photo: Henk Riswick
Photo: Henk Riswick

Approximately 100,000 pigs will be culled in Lviv, Ukraine, after African Swine Fever (ASF) was confirmed at a local farm in August, said the Ukrainian state veterinary service.

Ukraine is about to lose 1.6% of its 6.4 million (1 August 2019 figure) pigs as a result of the outbreak. This figure is higher than the 72,226 pigs that the country culled due to 351 outbreaks of ASF at commercial farms and among wild boars since 2017, the state veterinary service estimated.

It is yet to be determined how this case of ASF will affect the local pork market in the region, but some local news outlets have reported that the price of pork increased slightly following confirmation of the outbreak.

Speaking at a press-conference a few days prior to the outbreak, Volodimir Lapa, chairman of the state veterinary service, said that the overall number of ASF outbreaks in Ukraine had declined. He estimated that there were 163 cases registered in 2017 and 145 cases in 2018, and the number of outbreaks in the first 8 months of 2019 was substantially lower compared to the same period the previous year.

The Ukrainian state veterinary service is urging the government to pay hunters for killing infected wild boars. This practice is being widely used in the EU and has already proved its value in tackling the spread of ASF, Mr Lapa added.

Consuming infected pork

Ukraine’s Livestock Producers Association have called on authorities to allow meat of infected pigs in the food industry. Because a number of cases of ASF have been unreported by farmers, Ukrainian citizens have been consuming pork from infected pigs for years, the Livestock Producers Association told a local news outlet UNN.

“Scientists say that the ASF virus dies when being treated with a temperature of 60°C for 30 minutes. This means that, for example, canned meat manufactured using infected pork is absolutely safe both for human consumption and from a point of view of biological safety. If we would produce these products for the national strategic reserve, we would be able to feed around 200,000 people using pork from pigs culled following ASF outbreaks,” the Livestock Producers Association said.

The infected pork could be processed with a special mobile unit within the farm’s premises, the Association said, adding that that this type of processing plant is widely used in the US. The price per unit is approximately US$ 100,000 and is far lower than what Ukraine farmers suffer due of the continuing spread of ASF. There has not yet been an official reaction from the Ukraine government in response to this proposal.

Vladislav Vorotnikov Eastern Europe correspondent