BAI confirms ASF-positive processed meat products

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BAI confirms ASF-positive processed meat products
Several processed meat products have confirmed positive for ASF by the Bureau of Animal Industry, after just recently lifting the ban of such commodities.

After the banning of not only meat but also processed meat products in Visayas and Mindanao, several processed meat products have confirmed positive for African swine fever (ASF). 

The government recently ordered the lifting of the ban on transporting and entering of such goods from Luzon.

However, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI)’s confirmed in their report dated October 15 that three meat samples were detected with the ASF viral DNA using real time polymerase chain reaction test. 

The report listed hotdog, longganisa, and tocino are the products, although it did not give a specific brand or where they made.

Agriculture group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) claimed the goods are most likely imported as the processed meat products are never actually tested for ASF. 

“This only proves that we should not trust the claims of processors that the ASF virus can actually be killed once it undergoes heat treatment,” Sinag said.

LGUs’ ban on sale of processed meat products 

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) earlier this week ordered the consumption of processed meat products opposing the imposition of local government units (LGUs) to ban the commodities as to secure the safety of people from ASF

The DILG made the command after the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) reported P50-billion loss in sales, even the Christmas season is just around the corner. Not only that but the members faced difficulties in transporting and entering the products in certain provinces also. 

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PAMPI, however, feels skeptical over the report and thought it was devised to worsen the image of the industry. 

“All our processes, we have respected the rules. Anyone could taint the samples,” PAMPI spokesman Rex Agarrado said in a phone interview. 

“And if they wanted the results out, they would not wait for another week before they release that. We are just concerned on their timing,” he added. 

DA’s actions

Due to this incident, Sinag wrote letters to the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III, and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Commissioner Leonardo Guerrero asking for the implementation of the Quarantine First Policy. 

“With the current ASF pandemic, it is high time that the provision of the law be realized and fulfilled. Pork and pork-based products have never been subjected to any ASF testing at the first port of entry,” Sinag said.

To follow the global standard of quarantine first policy, Sinag said the cargo inspection and clearance procedures of imported food shall undergo at the first port of entry to the Philippines to establish compliance with national regulations. 

The group urged the DA and DOH-Food and Drug Administration to stop issuing sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance for the importation of pork and pork-based goods if the quarantine first policy provisions cannot be implemented yet. 

“We will not hesitate to file appropriate charges with the ombudsman and other appropriate courts against those that have been remiss in ensuring the full implementation of the quarantine first policy,”  Sinag warned. 

Rizal, Quezon City, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, and Nueva Ecija were among the provinces that DA confirmed of having ASF cases. 

So far, DA has already killed 62,000 hogs since the outbreak announcement in August. 

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