Belgium regains market access to various markets after being declared ASF-free



On 21 December 2020, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) confirmed the ASF-free status of all Belgian pigs. This was revoked in September 2018 following an outbreak of ASF in the wild boar population. Prior to the OIE’s publication, the Belgian FASFC (Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain) provided all the necessary data to the OIE, which proved that Belgian had been free of ASF for more than one year: a requirement for being able to claim ASF-free status. During this entire period, Belgium succeeded in keeping its domestic pigs free from ASF. 

Decisive and consistent action led to the eradication of ASF in the wild boar population 

From the inception of the outbreak in September 2018, Belgium’s strategy always consisted of eradicating ASF (African Swine Fever) among the wild boar population in Belgium. A wide range of different measures and actions were taken. Fencing was installed, forests were closed to the public, an intensive identification and destruction programme implemented, hunting and trapping... These all proved to be crucial factors for achieving this objective. 

After just one year, no new positive cases were identified. A total of 5,422 wild boar were checked, of which 833 tested positive for ASF. The last confirmed positive case of ASF on a fresh wild boar carcase dates from 11 August 2019. 

Important: the domestic pig herd was always safe and free from ASF

Belgium is one of the largest pork producers in Europe, exporting more than two thirds of its pork. To protect this key industry, preventing contamination of the domestic herd with this disease was crucial. 

In addition to the extensive biosafety measures that were implemented, additional measures were taken. This meant that each sick pig had to be tested for ASF, regardless of its symptoms. To date, more than 22,000 samples came back negative and more have since been added. 

High level of alertness thanks to continuous monitoring and control 

Despite regaining its ASF-free status, Belgium will continue to check for animal diseases, both in its domestic herd and in the wild boar population. The monitoring and control measures will remain in force for now. 

European law had already reinstated Belgium’s ASF-free status 

The OIE publication follows the decision by the European Commission on 20 November 2020 to abolish the regulated areas that were put in place after the outbreak of the virus in the wild boar population. 

Belgian pork will soon be available again around the world  

In past decades, Belgium exported its pork to more than 70 countries. As Belgium values transparent communication with its trade partners around the world, importing countries will receive all the information they need so trade can resume. In the meantime, various countries have lifted their embargo on Belgian pork. In other countries, the negotiations are still ongoing. The resumption of exports to third countries is important for Belgian exporters, in addition to influencing the European trade.