Washington, D.C. – January 13, 2022 – During the past three months, from October to December, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance (SITC) program seized and destroyed more than 1,900 pounds of prohibited pork, poultry, and ruminant products from New York City-area retailers. These items were sourced from China, lacked required import permits and health certificates, and therefore are considered a risk of introducing invasive plant and animal pests and diseases into the United States. SITC anti-smuggling efforts prevent the establishment of invasive plant and animal pests and diseases, while maintaining the safety of our ecosystems and natural resources. The recent efforts to safeguard American agriculture represent a continued collaboration between APHIS, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and local New York City officials.
APHIS is concerned about these prohibited products because China is a country affected by African swine fever (ASF), Classical swine fever, Newcastle disease, Foot-and-mouth disease, highly pathogenic avian influenza and swine vesicular disease. ASF is of particular concern because the highly contagious and deadly viral disease that affects both domestic and feral swine of all ages has recently spread throughout China and Asia, as well as within parts of the European Union. Most recently, ASF was confirmed in pigs in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
ASF is not a threat to human health, but it is a deadly swine disease that would have a significant impact on U.S. pork producers, their communities and export markets if discovered in the U.S. ASF has never been found in the United States – and APHIS wants to keep it that way. In response to the concerns about ASF, APHIS is working closely with other federal and state agencies, the swine industry, and producers to take the necessary actions to protect our nation’s commercial swine population and keep this disease out of the U.S. APHIS is also actively preparing to respond if ASF is ever detected in the U.S.
SITC’s safeguarding efforts also include other prohibited agricultural products. In 2021, SITC seized 224,568 pounds of prohibited agricultural items valued at over $1.7 million, helping protect U.S. crops and livestock from devastating and costly plant pests and foreign animal diseases.
Tips from the public also contribute to APHIS’ efforts in safeguarding American agriculture. If you are aware of the potential smuggling of prohibited exotic fruits, vegetables, or meat products into or throughout the United States, please contact the confidential Anti-Smuggling Hotline at (301) 734-8534 or email tips to SITC.Mail@usda.gov. USDA will make every attempt to protect the confidentiality of any information sources during an investigation within the extent of the law. Visit the APHIS website to learn how to Help Report Agricultural Smuggling.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.