FDA expands pork importation ban list

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2019   •   1157

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded its list of countries temporarily banned from exporting pork meat and other pork products to the Philippines due to suspected cases of the African Swine Fever (ASF).

In a list released recently, the FDA added four more countries, namely North Korea, Hong Kong, Germany and Laos to the list of countries whose pork products have been barred from entering the Philippines.

In the previous months, the FDA issued Order No. 2018-133 and Order No. 2019-045 in line with the memorandum orders of the Department of Agriculture, temporarily banning pork meat from several countries reportedly hit with the ASF.

These nations include China, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zambia, South Africa, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Mongolia, Moldova and Belgium.

The FDA reiterated in its advisory that it does not allow the registration of processed pork meat products from these suspected ASF-infected countries.

The agency added that a heightened post-marketing surveillance and audit is also being conducted on all concerned establishments to ensure full compliance to the foregoing FDA orders.

“At the same time, to hold violators liable under Republic Act 9711 (Food Administration Act of 2009), Republic Act 10611 (Food Safety Act of 2013) and other pertinent laws, rules and regulations, all in the interest of protecting public health and safety,” the FDA said.

“The public is advised to exercise extreme caution in purchasing and consuming processed pork meat products and is advised to only consume pork meat products which are sourced from countries other than the above listed countries suspected to be affected by ASF virus, and registered with the FDA,” it further stated.

Local meat processors have earlier assured that products made in the country are safe for human consumption and are not containing meat and other materials imported from ASF-infected countries.

FDA, NMIS checks on meat processing plants for African Swine Fever

Marje Pelayo   •   November 8, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) have been doing rounds in meat processing plants across the country.

According to Health Undersecretary and FDA Officer-In-Charge Eric Domingo, there is a total of 178 meat processing plants in the Philippines.

Tests have been conducted in 68 of these facilities and the results were negative of African Swine Fever (ASF).

“Tinitingnan natin ang kanilang mga planta tapos ang kanilang mga documents kung meron silang mga inspection at saka kung pasado sila sa lahat ng standards (We check their plants as well as their documents to determine if they do regular inspections and if they pass all the standards),” Domingo said.

The FDA is coordinating with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for assistance in monitoring supplies in local public markets in relation to the ASF.

Domingo admitted that it is difficult to identify if a product is infected with ASF that’s why it is better to choose a brand that is FDA registered.

One popular delicacy during holidays is the cured or glazed ham.

According to a retailers’ group, they already have taken orders of ham but only a minimal volume as compared to last year.

One reason for this is consumers’ fear of the outbreak of ASF virus.

“What is a bit difficult to estimate right now is how much ham should we order and how much ham will people buy,” lamented Steve Cua, President of the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association.

Still, Usec. Domingo said ASF-infected meat may still be consumed.

“Hindi naman po ito nakakahawa ng sakit sa tao (ASF is not transferrable to humans),” Domingo clarified.

“Kaya po natin siya talaga pinipigilan kasi ayaw nating kumalat sa iba pa pong hayop sa Pilipinas (The reason for prevention is because we do not want it to infect other animals in the Philippines),” he concluded. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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

Robie de Guzman   •   November 8, 2019

 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.

ASF disinfection facility in Batangas removed for causing traffic jam

Marje Pelayo   •   November 8, 2019

BATANGAS, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has put up its first automated road disinfection facility in South Luzon Expressway extension-STAR Tollway bio-security and quarantine checkpoint in Santo Tomas, Batangas early November.

The facility, which was inaugurated by Secretary William Dar himself, was established to avert the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) and to prevent the entry of other animal diseases into the province of Batangas.

But after only a week, the management of STAR Tollway decided to remove it arguing that the facility was causing heavy traffic in the area.

The toll management did not issue any official statement on the matter.

But according to Engineer Arnel de Mesa, the DA’s Regional Director for Calabarzon, they are actually looking for a larger area where they can place the facility without disrupting traffic.

“Ang alam ko lang doon sa Sto. Tomas kasi may arrangement doon sa STAR Tollway na hahanapan [ng lugar],” De Mesa said.

“Kasi noong nailagay doon, naka experience ng matinding traffic so i-mo-move doon sa area na hindi magko-cause ng matinding trapik,” he added.

Without the facility, quarantine personnel do not have any choice but to do manual disinfection of all vehicles bound for Batangas.

“This is one way of preventing the spread of any disease lalo na yung mga gulong kaya dun sa mga farm meron silang tinatawag na foot bath tsaka tire bath,” De Mesa explained.

“Karamihan kasi ng mga sakit nandiyan sa mga sapatos, nandiyan sa mga gulong, nasa mga sasakyan,” he added.

The DA is planning to install 12 automated road disinfection facilities in strategic locations across the region where most ASF infections were recorded.

“Para patuloy po ang ating bio security control measures, hindi lang para sa ASF kundi sa major economic diseases na mga alagang hayop sa Calabarzon,” he said.

Batangas, Laguna and Quezon remain ASF-free, De Mesa assured. – MNP (with reports from Sherwin Culubong)

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