Hong Kong’s Wanchai Ferry brand of pork dumplings distances itself from Philippine seizure of products with same name tainted with African swine fever virus

Natalie Wong

A famous Hong Kong food brand has distanced itself from a case in the Philippines in which packs of pork dumplings were found to contain the African swine fever virus, saying it would investigate if its name was being misused in packaging.

Wanchai Ferry, which sells frozen dumplings in Hong Kong, mainland China and Europe, posted a statement on its Facebook page on Monday afternoon in response to an announcement by Philippine customs over a seized shipment from China at a Manila port in December.

In a photo released by Philippine authorities, the company’s name was printed in simplified Chinese characters on packaging for pork-celery dumplings, a design similar to that of its official products on the mainland.

The company said it was deeply concerned about the report. “[We] do not export goods to the Philippines directly or through any distributors. We have been contacting the concerned authorities to track down the batch of products involved.”

The statement also said the raw pork used in dumplings distributed in Hong Kong was provided by foreign suppliers and passed inspections based on international standards.

Wanchai Ferry was founded by the late Chong Kin-wo, known as the “Dumpling Queen”, about 40 years ago. Chong sold her products at Wan Chai Pier in Hong Kong. She opened her first mainland plant in Shanghai in 1998, and was estimated to have conquered more than half of the market for frozen dumplings in southern China.

The seizure was reported on Saturday, with the Philippines’ Bureau of Customs saying that Manila International Container Terminal had ordered the contaminated products to be buried to prevent a spread of the virus, which is transmissible among pigs but not humans.

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The undeclared shipment, which contained pork dumplings, pork-chicken balls and roast-chicken wings, arrived at the port on December 11 and was held by authorities over the lack of a sanitary permit from the Bureau of Animal Industry.

The bureau later confirmed from laboratory test results that the products were tainted with the virus and that it had disposed of them by burial.

The Philippines’ import ban on pork and related products covers 16 jurisdictions hit by swine fever, including the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, after the country confirmed its first case in July last year.

Hong Kong’s first case was reported in May last year, prompting the government to order the culling of more than 6,000 pigs. The disease has spread to every province on the mainland since its initial detection in August 2018.

A spokesman for Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said it was following up on the matter.

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