Importers of meat and processed meat products will need to secure permits from the Bureau of Animal Industry and National Meat Inspection Service to prevent the entry of imported meat products infected with African Swine Flu in the international market, the Bureau of Customs said.
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The BOC said importers of regulated products were required to secure corresponding import permits as part of customs clearance after examples of some meat products coming from international sources were found positive with ASF.
In related developments, the Department of Agriculture said Saturday two containers of pork and other meat products from ASF-hit China were seized at the Manola port earlier in the week.
The containers were misdeclared as bearing tomato paste, Agriculture Secretary William Dar told reporters.
The cargo was consigned to Jeniti International Trading in Binondo, Manila, he said.
The Bureau of Customs has yet to determine the value of the seized goods, while the Bureau of Animal Industry will test samples from the products for ASF, according to Dar.
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The Philippines, the world’s 10th largest consumer of pork and 7th biggest importer, has banned the entry of pork from countries affected with the hog disease.
These include China, Hong Kong, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, North Korea, Laos, Latvia, Moldova, Mongolia, Myanmar, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Mekeni Food Corporation itself said it has initiated voluntary recall of all its pork-based products, adding in a statement it has always been committed to providing the best quality products to every Filipino family that has trusted and loved our products over the last 32 years.
It said: “While we have always been fully compliant with all government regulations, we also have been cooperating with the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Animal Industry in their ongoing testing of products for possible exposure to African Swine Fever.
“We have submitted samples of our pork-based products to the BAI as well as an independent testing facility.
“Even as we wait for the results of these tests, we have decided to initiate a voluntary recall of all of our pork-based products effective 26 October 2019. This is to ensure that we mitigate the possibility that our products inadvertently become carriers of ASF.
“However, we would like to stress that these products are safe for consumption. No less than the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture have reiterated that ASF poses no danger to human health.”
Meanwhile, a group of meat processing firms on Saturday decried the leak of alleged test results of processed meat showing that samples tested positive for African Swine Fever.
“It is a leaked information. This came out in the headlines on Thursday, supposedly to have been issued by BAI (Bureau of Animal Industry). Actually, BAI claims it was not issued by them but it is actually stolen by somebody and issued to the press most likely for malicious intent,” said Rex Agarrado, spokesperson of the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc.
Agarrado said they already have an idea who released the unofficial test results.
He said samples of branded and unbranded processed meat products were seized by BAI from Calapan City on October 6.
“It was just unfortunate that that branded product was also in the same halo-halo sample na (mixed sample that) were collected by BAI,” he said in an interview on dzMM heard nationwide.
In a statement, the BOC said importer of meat and meat products must secure corresponding Sanitary-Phytosanitary Import Clearance from the Bureau of Animal Industry as part of the first border inspection.
After the first inspection, the meat product is then delivered to the designated Cold Storage Facility where the National Meat Inspection Service will conduct a 100 percent examination as part of the second border inspection.
“In some cases, BOC representatives are invited to witness the examination. A similar process is applied to other regulated products and are strictly enforced throughout all ports of the country,” the BOC said in a statement.
To date, the BOC has apprehended various shipments containing frozen pork meat products in various ports as part of the agency’s commitment to prevent the entry of ASF infected meat.
The bureau assures the public that border security is a primary concern of the agency and close coordination with regulatory agencies are done to ensure the safe and legal entry of regulated products into the country.
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