DepEd urged to heighten measures vs consumption of ASF-tainted products in schools

Robie de Guzman   •   November 8, 2019   •   216

 Filipino children are seen in front of a school in Manila, Philippines, 08 October 2019 (issued 11 October 2019). EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – A senator has urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to heighten precautionary measures to prevent students from consuming pork products tainted with African Swine Fever (ASF) in schools.

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said DepEd should exercise vigilance following reports that processed pork meats from China tested positive for ASF, as well as some skinless longganisa and hotdog products from local manufacturer, Mekeni.

“Sa mga feeding program na isinasagawa ng DepEd, halimbawa, dapat siguruhin ng ating mga guro na gumagamit sila ng mga malinis at mapagkakatiwalaang mga produktong ipakakain sa mga bata,” he said in a statement.

While ASF does not pose a threat to human health, the senator said schools should raise awareness and exhaust all sanitary measures to protect students from ASF-contaminated products.

Gatchalian also cited an advisory from the Department of Health which identified uncooked and undercooked contaminated pork as a source of ASF’s spread in swine herds.

Health authorities said the swine disease is introduced into a herd when contaminated raw pork is ingested by a pig. The virus spreads when contaminated pigs get into direct contact with other pigs.

Food waste, feed, and garbage can also cause ASF when ingested by pigs.

“Etong mga hakbang na maaari nating gawin, nagsisimula ito sa responsableng pamimili at lubos na pagluluto ng karne sa mga paaralan. Ito ay upang maiwasan natin ang pagkakasakit ng mga mag-aaral pati na rin ang pagkalat pa ng ASF,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture earlier said that the illegal importation of pork products from China was responsible for the spread of the ASF virus in the country.

Gatchalian also urged DepEd to involve parents in efforts to raise awareness on sanitary practices and preventive measures.

“While schools play an important role to protect our students’ health, it is important that we also extend our efforts at the household level. Kahit gawin ng mga paaralan ang lahat ng pwedeng gawin kung hindi naman nababantayan sa mga bahay nila, malalagay pa rin sa panganib ang ating mga estudyante,” he said.

Barangays UP Campus, Sta. Monica in QC test positive for ASF — City Vet

Marje Pelayo   •   November 7, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Two more barangays in Quezon City have reported positive cases of African Swine Fever (ASF).

According to a message from city veterinarian Ana Marie Cabel, cases of ASF were reported in hogs at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman campus and Barangay Sta. Monica in Novaliches, Quezon City.

Cabel said a total of 178 pigs were accounted in Barangay UP Campus while 16 pigs were reported in Barangay Sta. Monica.

Culling operations, however according to Cabel, will be scheduled only once the City Veterinary Office has cleared Barangay Payatas.

The two barangays are the latest addition to the previous seven areas reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as having positive cases of ASF.

These seven areas in Quezon City include Barangays Bagong Silangan, Payatas, Tatalon, Pasong Tamo, Roxas, Tandang Sora, and Commonwealth. MNP (with inputs from Rey Pelayo)

BOC reiterates: Meat, pork imports need clearance before release

Robie de Guzman   •   November 6, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Wednesday reiterated that food imports such as meat and pork products must first be inspected and cleared before its release.

The BOC made the statement amid government efforts to prevent entry of food products that may contain diseases, particularly the African Swine Fever (ASF) in the country.

The bureau said that RepublicAct 10611 or the Food Safety Act of 2013 stipulates that “imported foods shall undergo cargo inspection and clearance procedures by the DA (Department of Agriculture) and the DOH (Department of Health) at the first port of entry to determine compliance with national regulations.”

The BOC added that this inspection will always be conducted prior to assessment for tariff and other charges.

To further ensure the safety of the public, the BOC said that boarding formalities on arriving vessels at any port entry are strictly conducted by the bureau and the Quarantine Officers of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

According to BOC Spokesperson and Assistant Commissioner Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla, all imported agricultural goods contained in reefer containers undergo initial examination by the DA.

These will then be inspected by the BAI, BPI and BFAR at their accredited warehouses.

“In case of meat products, reefer container is sealed by BAI prior to the release of said imports from the BOC. The sealed reefer container will be further examined 100% by the National Meat Inspection Service in its accredited storage warehouse,” the statement read.

BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero emphasized that the bureau is prompt in acting against derogatory reports of shipments that may contain smuggled goods and other contraband and is serious in enforcing the law and the proper procedures against imported pork and meat products from ASF-hit countries.

DA to heighten quarantine measures against African Swine Fever

Marje Pelayo   •   November 5, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Monday (November 4) said the Department of Agriculture (DA) is working with other government agencies in carrying out heightened quarantine procedures against African Swine Fever (ASF).

“We will continue to elevate and enhance our quarantine measures,” Dar said.

The DA is now coordinating with the Department of Health thru the Food and Drug Administration (DOH-FDA) regarding the enhanced procedures aiming at preventing further spread of the deadly pig virus.

Dar stressed that the local government units will serve as the lead quarantine officers at the local level with assistance from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) who then are the lead agencies in regulating meat products across the country.

Secretary Dar has again reminded small backyard raisers to immediately report to their respective city, municipal or provincial veterinarian any sign of disease or deaths of pigs in their area.

Likewise, he urged backyard raisers to refrain from swill feeding particularly leftover food coming from inbound airline flights, hotels, and restaurants to prevent further spread of the virus.

The Secretary noted that the ASF virus can be easily controlled and contained with the cooperation from local government, hog raisers and traders and with the strict implementation of the quarantine measures set by the department.

“There is a standard protocol implemented since Day 1,” Dar said.

“But because of the non-cooperation of some provinces, we are now elevating our quarantine measures,” he added.

In view of the ongoing outbreak, Secretary Dar meanwhile appealed to hog traders not to take advantage of the situation.

“It is a crime to sell, trade, and/or slaughter sick or dead pigs for meat or for processed pork products,” he warned.

He added that violators could face imprisonment from 6 to 12 years or fine of P100,000 to P1 million or both under the law.

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