The emergence of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Mongolia has alerted Russia’s veterinary authority Rosselkhoznadzor – leading to an import stop for pigs and pork. There is fear that the outbreaks may pose a threat to Russian regions that still enjoy an ASF-free status.
The veterinary watchdog has prohibited importing Mongolian pigs and pork as from early February. The decision has been taken primarily because Mongolia has been supplying meat products to regions in southern Siberia. In that part of Russia, there are no major pork production facilities, so historically it has had a higher dependence on imports.
ASF in a batch of pork sausages
Rosselkhoznadzor went over to action after having found the ASF genome in a batch of pork sausages imported from Mongolia to the Republic of Buryatia, a part of Russia which is located immediately north of Mongolia – as can be seen in the map below. The infected batch was discovered late January 2018, the Buryatian regional government revealed in a statement on its website on February 6.
The government admitted that, despite constant monitoring of pork imported from Mongolia, the infected sausages had hit the local market. Within a few days, the imported sausages were withdrawn from the stores again and members of the public were offered to return already purchased products for double the price, the government said.
Some of the pork sausages were consumed
Erdem Sangardiev, chairman of the Buryatian veterinary department, said that in total 8 tonnes of sausages containing the ASF genome had been imported from Mongolia. Out of this batch 6 tonnes were seized at the warehouse and 2 tonnes had been sold to the customers. Following the ASF alert, the veterinary services managed to get only 300 kg back. It is therefore assumed that that the rest had already been consumed.
Mr Sangardiev said that in the next few weeks, an enhanced ASF monitoring regime will be in place in both Buryatia as well as Irkutsk regions, where some sausages with ASF genome also had hit the shelves of groceries. Mr Sangardiev explained that all pig farmers have been instructed to keep an eye on their pigs and report immediately on things considered suspicious.
Pig and pork exports to Russia may be resumed if the Mongolian authorities can provide an investigation demonstrating how the infected sausages could have entered the supply chain.