Agriculture officials say they will request the Department of the Interior and Local Government to direct the local governments to assist the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration in seizing imported pork products
that might have been contaminated by African Swine Fever.
At the same time, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said he would ask traders to voluntarily refrain from importing pigs and processed pork products
from countries hit by the fever.
The virus, fatal to pigs and wild boars, spread across half of China’s provinces last year and was detected this week at a slaughterhouse along its border with Hong Kong.
Piñol, speaking in Filipino, told radio dzMM, in a report heard nationwide, “I will meet with meat importers today and appeal to them to impose self-limitation on importing pigs and processed pork products from ASF-affected and high-risk countries.”
Piñol has defined high-risk countries as those “contiguous” to countries with ASF like Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam—all members of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
ASF, while not dangerous to humans but is fatal to pigs and wild boars has no known vaccine or cure.
According to Piñol, the Food and Drug Administration continued issuing import permits for canned and processed pork from China despite a ban from the DA last year.
In related developments:
• Some local government units have begun inspecting grocery and retail stores in their areas for available pork and pork-based products amid reports on ASF outbreak in some European and Asian countries.
The FDA had recalled all pork and pork-based items from local markets to prevent the possible spread of the deadly pig virus.
Dr. Paul Toletino Foronda, municipal veterinarian of Dinalupihan, Bataan posted on his Facebook page images of their initiative to remind grocery stores to self-recall the prohibited items from their respective shelves pending turnover to the FDA.
Foronda said they were able to convince store owners to pull out of more than 800 cans of ‘Ma Ling’ brand luncheon meat throughout their rounds.
• The National Economic and Development Authority earlier said it did not see any impact to inflation rate in the months ahead of the current FDA recall of all pork-based products manufactured in countries affected by the ASF virus.
“We are sticking with the government’s official target range of 2 to 4 percent inflation for 2019... It is probably not going to increase the prices of canned meats...,” NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said during the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines-Aboitiz economic forum held in Makati City Wednesday.
“I think the Department of Agriculture has already taken steps to ensure that this one gets addressed so as not to impact the livestock industry...” Edillon said.
Edillon said the Department of Trade and Industry would be included in this recall decision but the sentiment of the supermarket owners must also be considered.
“This recall decision has to be balanced in relation to the industry...,” Edillon said.
Edillon said the share of these products in the CPI basket was minimal, adding “we will be more than okay.”
The FDA recall includes canned goods like luncheon meat and processed pork—such as Ma Ling from China—with a manufacturing date from August 2018 or later.
The FDA has also expanded its list of countries temporarily banned from exporting pork products to the Philippines due to ASF among their livestock.
A new FDA advisory now bans the importation of pork from Vietnam, Zambia, South Africa, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Mongolia, Moldova, and Belgium.
The move expands the Department of Agriculture memorandum order in September that banned imported pork products from China, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine.
The World Organization for Animal Health said African Swine Fever is “a severe viral disease affecting domestic and wild pigs.”
While humans cannot get ASF, it can have serious economic effects if it spreads among livestock. The Philippines is currently free of African swine flu.
The Agricuture Department and local hog raisers have also asked the FDA to stop the issuance of import clearances and order the immediate pullout from the market of processed pork products from these countries. With Julito Rada
READ: Pork meat recall ordered
READ: ASF-products recall: Neda sees no inflation