FDA must tighten regulations on processed meat – DA

Marje Pelayo   •   September 17, 2019   •   1029

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)

DA relaxes conditions for insured ASF-affected hog raisers

Marje Pelayo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (DA-PCIC) has relaxed conditions for paying hog raisers for their losses under its insurance program for hogs.

This is in support of the Duterte government’s initiative to revitalize hog production amid the African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic.

During its regular meeting on Wednesday (February 24), the PCIC Board of Directors approved the DA proposal to pay losses resulting from government-ordered culling or slaughter of insured hogs.

Likewise, the Board agrees to raise the payable amount up to 100 percent of the insurance cover or the total sum insured.

The move is expected to help encourage the raising of over 10 million heads of swine among commercial and backyard raisers. 

The stocks to be insured will be a mix of fatteners and breeders, including grandparent stock, among the commercial raisers; and fatteners and breeders, among the backyard raisers.

Backyard hog raisers currently receive free insurance, provided they are listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), the country’s database of bona fide subsistence farmers and fisherfolk. But they will be covered by the relaxed provision on indemnity payment and culling or emergency slaughter, the DA further said.

Moreover, the Board directed the PCIC to increase the number of backyard hog raisers to be provided insurance coverage, it added.

The agriculture department guarantees that these enhanced insurance policy features for the swine industry will remain in place until such time that the industry shall have stabilized or a vaccine or other veterinary solutions will have been developed for ASF.

Consistent with the DA policy, the PCIC will require commercial and backyard raisers to adhere to prescribed biosafety protocols, such as cleaning, disinfecting, and training in biosafety measures.

This protocol is contained in the DA Administrative Order No. 6, issued on February 6, 2021, entitled “Guidelines on the Implementation of the Recovery, Rehabilitation and Repopulation Assistance Program for ASF-affected and Non-ASF Affected Areas.”

Duterte ‘puzzled’ over FDA advice on Sinovac use for health workers – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte was perplexed by the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not to use the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine on health workers who are frequently exposed to patients with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the president has asked FDA Director-General Eric Domingo to explain such recommendation after the agency’s issuance of an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Sinovac.

“Si president po mismo, nagtataka bakit nga ganuon nga ang naging EUA ng FDA at pinatawag po talaga si Dr. Domingo ng huling cabinet meeting… Naiparating ng president ang pagtataka kung bakit may ganitong colatilla,” Roque said.

Domingo explained that the vaccine’s efficacy rate on healthcare workers is 50.4% based on Sinovac’s clinical trials conducted in Brazil, making it not the best vaccine suited for healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients.

The FDA chief, however, stressed that this is only a recommendation and healthcare workers are not prohibited from receiving Sinovac if they chose to.

“Nirerespeto po ni president ang mga opinion ng mga experts kaya let the colatilla remain,” Roque said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DOH, FDA to probe Mon Tulfo’s alleged use of unauthorized COVID-19 vaccine

Robie de Guzman   •   February 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday said they would investigate reports on the use of smuggled vaccines against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The DOH issued the statement following the admission of Special Envoy to China Ramon Tulfo that he received coronavirus jabs from China’s Sinopharm, which has not yet been authorized for use in the country.

Tulfo on Tuesday said he got inoculated with illegally procured vaccine last year with some Cabinet officials, a lawmaker and some of President Rodrigo Duterte’s security team.

The DOH warned the public that the use and distribution of smuggled vaccine is illegal.

“Ito po ay makakasama sa imbestigasyon and all of these things kapag nakita natin na hindi naayon sa mga batas na meron tayo dito sa ating bansa will be considered illegal,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing.

“Kung sinoman po yung mga kababayan natin, distributors or suppliers na nagbibigay ng mga bakuna na wala pang emergency use authority ay magkakaroon ng appropriate investigation and if there would be violations, magkaka-sanctions po,” she added.

Vergeire also stressed that vaccines need to undergo regulation and secure emergency use authorization (EUA) to ensure its safety and efficacy.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo said Sinopharm has yet to file an application for an EUA.

“As of now, wala pa pong nag-a-apply sa amin. ‘Yung Chinese Government, sumulat po sila kay Secretary (Carlito) Galvez informing him na wala silang local na distributor dito at hindi ko alam kung ano ang kanilang magiging applications po and strategy,” Domingo said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, meanwhile, said that Malacañang will leave the investigation on the issue to the FDA.

He, however, stressed that taking illegally procured COVID-19 vaccines is not a policy of the Duterte administration.

“Wala pong ganiyang polisiya dahil kung may ganiyan pong polisiya, siguro commercial quantity na ang kumalat noong mga bakuna na hindi naaprubahan. Pero inaantay po talaga natin ang aksiyon ng FDA sa mga bagay-bagay na ito,” Roque said.

To recall, some members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) were revealed to have taken unauthorized coronavirus vaccine shots in December.

The FDA and the National Bureau of Investigation are undertaking separate investigations into the matter.

Domingo said the PSG has yet to respond to FDA’s inquiry into their illegal inoculation. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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