DA assures PH pork still safe for consumption

Marje Pelayo   •   August 21, 2019   •   359

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) maintains that pork items in local markets are still safe for consumption despite reports of sudden pig deaths in some areas in the country.

“We assure the public that the meat in the market today is safe (because) it’s sourced from areas (that) are not infected,” assured Noel Reyes, spokesperson of Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

The Department has already imposed a major disease protocol in the areas of concern though the DA has not yet named where the specific locations are and what have caused the pigs death.

In accordance with the protocol, all pigs within the 1 kilometer radius have already been culled while those within the 7 kilometer radius have been placed under control where entry and exit of pigs are prohibited.

Meanwhile, pig handlers within the 10 kilometer radius from the infected site are obliged to report immediately if there is pig mortality in their area.

Reyes said the DA suspected that the reported deaths of pigs could have been caused by ‘swill’ or food leftovers that’s why the DA advised all hog raisers to refrain from feeding their pigs with swill.

Reyes noted that hog raisers may have resorted to swill because it is cheaper.

The DA sais it may take up to two weeks to three months before the result of the confirmatory test on the infected pigs’ samples is released to determine what type of pig disease hit them.

The department assured that in the next bulletin, they will include details of assistance that affected hog raisers may avail to cope up with the problem. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

DA to double tariffs on imported rice to aid local farmers

Marje Pelayo   •   September 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary William Dar announced on Friday (September 20) that the Department of Agriculture (DA) will impose double tariff on imported rice effective end of this month.

“We have to holistically and systematically protect the consuming public and much more, the farmers,” Dar said.

“So, I have taken the necessary steps and the direction in which we will be enforcing doubling the tariff during these times when we have exceeded importing rice beyond the requirement of this country,” he added.

The official said such measure is to address the increasing price of rice in markets in line with the Republic Act 8752 (Anti-Dumping Act of 1999).

The law said anti-dumping duties are imposed on imports which the government determines to be priced below fair market value.

“We will impose a tariff from the present level of 35 percent to 75 percent for imported rice coming from ASEAN countries and double the tariff from those outside ASEAN countries from 50-100%,” Secretary Dar said.

At present, 93% of the country’s rice is locally produced while about 7 to 10% comes from importation.

“We will protect the farmers by not allowing additional importation so that during this main harvest our local farmers will benefit from the respectable prices set by the government,” Dar concluded.

FDA must tighten regulations on processed meat – DA

Marje Pelayo   •   September 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Regulations on processed meat such as well-loved Filipino delicacies tocino and longganisa should be tightened by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

According to Agriculture Undersecretary for Consumer Affairs Ernesto Gonzales, consumers cannot be complacent on buying these processed products especially if they are not sure of the source or origin of the raw meat.

Gonzales added that it is difficult to determine if the pork meat is contaminated with African Swine Fever (ASF) once it is processed.

He added that even ‘botcha’ or double-dead pork meat can be made into meat delicacies without the consumer noticing it because of colorings and extenders used in the process.

The official said the best way to determine if the pork meat is safe for consumption is to know the source of the raw meat, and if it is certified by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).

Kapag na-issue-han na ang karne from slaughterhouse ng meat inspection certificate (once meat from the slaughterhouse is issued with meat inspection certificate), definitely that meat is safe to eat,” Gonzales said.

However, the DA admitted that the government is lacking when it comes to regulations on processed meat so the coordination of the local government units (LGUs) is of utmost importance.

Iyang problema natin yung mga maliliit na food processors na gumagawa ng mga longanisa, tocino, ang regulation hindi ganoon ka-strict ( The problem with small-time food processors or makers of longanisa and tocino is that the regulation is not that strict), ” Gonzales noted.

If ever the processed meat is infected with ASF, Gonzales said, it is still safe to eat, provided that it went through the proper cooking procedure of 30 minutes under 70’C temperature. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Zubiri calls on DA, other agencies to act faster in containing ASF spread

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday (Sept. 16) called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other concerned government agencies to move faster in containing the spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF) in hog farms in the country.

Zubiri made the appeal after the DA confirmed that the ASF caused the deaths of swine in several areas in Bulacan and Rizal provinces.

READ: DA, BAI confirm ASF outbreak, call on public to help prevent spread of pig disease

“Ako po ay lubos na nababahala sa pagpasok ng African Swine Fever sa ating bansa bagamat hindi pa natutukoy kung anong strain ang tumama sa ating swine population,” the senator said in a statement.

(I am very much worried over the entry of the African Swine Fever in the country although we have yet to determine the kind of strain that hit our swine population.)

Zubiri also recalled issuing a warning to agency officials about the possible spread of the swine disease during a hearing of the Senate committee on agriculture and food on the ASF in March.

He also recommended during the said hearing the implementation of tighter monitoring and security measures in the country’s sea and airports to prevent the entry of ASF into the country.

“Noong Marso 20 ng taong ito ay pinamunuan natin ang Committee hearing ng Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food kung saan kung saan sinabi ko na — that the damage and economic losses caused by the recent water crisis in some parts of Metro Manila would be incomparable to the havoc and economic losses the ASF could bring into the whole country if ever this epidemic will reach our shores. So, we must not let our guard down, this is a very serious concern,” he said.

“Hiniling din natin na kung maaari ay mag-impose ng total ban sa importation ng pork mula sa ibang bansa. Subalit nakapasok pa rin sa bansa ang ASF. Gusto ko pong malaman ano po ang nangyari? Naging maluwag ba tayo sa pagbabantay?” he added.

“Ngayong andito na sa bansa ang ASF, nais natin na mas higpitan ng DA at iba pang ahensya ng pamahalaan at ng publiko ang pagbabantay at pag-contain nito upang di na kumalat pa sa ibang probinsya o lugar sa bansa. Kailangan nating paigtingin ang bio-security ng ating mga swine farms at wag na po sanang magdala ang ating mga kababayan ng mga pork products mula sa ASF affected countries.” Zubiri further said.

The Philippines’ swine industry is the sixth biggest in the world.

According to Zubiri, most of these hog raisers are backyard growers whose losses will be devastating if the government failed to contain the spread of ASF in the country.

“Let’s save our hog industry especially the backyard raisers,” he said.

DA Secretary William Dar earlier said that the pig virus has already been contained in Barangay Pritil and Guiguinto in Bulacan as well as in several barangays in Rodriguez, San Mateo, and Antipolo in Rizal.

He also stressed that the outbreak is not affecting the entire country, thus, he appeals to the public as well as the media not to ignite fear as unverified and unvalidated reports could create irreversible damage to the country’s hog industry which is also the source of livelihood for millions of Filipinos.

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