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FDA orders recall of pork products from African Swine Fever-affected countries

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered a market recall of all pork-based products that are manufactured from countries affected by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

The recall order includes canned goods like luncheon meat and processed pork with manufacturing date from August 2018 when the country’s import ban on pork took effect, up to present.

The agency also calls on traders not to sell these products anymore.

According to Health Undersecretary and FDA Officer-In-Charge Eric Domingo, ASF is highly contagious and the risk is high especially when contamination spreads into the country’s swine industry.

Domingo noted a recent study which reveals the possibility that the ASF virus could still survive even the highest temperature during processing.

Though there is no recorded proof of human transmission, the ASF virus present in processed pork or pork-based products may pose a threat to live pigs.

“In this case we are banning this product primarily because of food security. Mabilis kasing mag-spread itong African Swine Flu (spreads easily) and it affects live stocks,” Domingo said.

The FDA has rolled out an investigation as to how the pork products were able to enter the country despite the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s import ban that started in August 2018.

Domingo added that since the import ban took effect, the issuance of import permit was also put on hold thus the entry of such items was definitely questionable.

Wala naman kasi na ibinibigay na certificate of product registration ang DA since late last year so hindi na dapat iyan naipapasok sa Pilipinas,” he explained.

(The DA no longer issues certificates of product registration since last year so those items shouldn’t have entered the Philippines.)

African Swine Fever (ASF) cases were first reported in Africa and several European countries.

The outbreak of the virus also killed millions of pigs in China last year.

Just this year, the virus further spread to its neighboring countries Mongolia, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Based on record from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the ASF virus has already killed about 2.6 million pigs in the mentioned countries.

“Ipinakikiusap namin sa mga nagtitinda na mismo kung meron silang mga produkto na mga meat products na de lata na nanggaling doon sa mga bansa na binanggit natin, sana i-recall na nila,” Domingo appeals to traders.

(We are calling all traders to have the initiative to recall the meat products and canned goods themselves particularly those which came from the ASF-affected countries.)

“Sila na mismo itago na nila. Huwag na nilang ibenta at i-report nila sa amin para ma-trace natin kung saan nanggaling at make sure lang na hindi na po ito kumalat,” he added.

(Have the initiative to pull them out of the store shelves. Do not sell them anymore and report to us so we may be able to trace their origin and also to make sure we prevent the spread of the virus.)

At present, the DA’s Bureau of Quarantine has foot baths in place at international airports across the country for passengers coming from ASF-affected countries.

These will caution passengers of the preventive measures the government is taking to prevent the spread of the deadly pig virus.

“Posibleng hindi nakarating sa kanila. Posibleng hindi nila nabasa. But upon arriving at the airport of entry, sinabihan ka ng Quarantine (officer) na hindi pwede, magpupumilit ka ba? At ang gagamitin mong dahilan ay hindi mo alam? Hindi pwdeng ganun,” Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said.

(It may not have reached their knowledge or possibly have not read about the ban, but upon arriving at the airport and the quarantine officer tells you that those items are banned, would you still insist? Would you still reason out that you didn’t know about it? It doesn’t work that way.)

The agency will request for additional K9 units as well as the installation of x-ray machines to screen passengers’ baggage.

Confiscated banned products will be destroyed or burned, according to DA. – (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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Brewer tagged in ‘poisoning’ taps third-party labs to test banned Carabao Cosmic Gin

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Cosmic Carabao | Courtesy: Juan Brew Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The manufacturer of the recently recalled Cosmic Carabao Gin said it is now investigating reports of alleged methanol poisoning and has tapped third-party laboratories to test the craft gin.

“This is to determine any possible issue in the production of the Cosmic Carabao Gin,” Juan Brew said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the seizure and confiscation as well as the banning of the clear liquid craft gin after gin samples collected and subjected to analysis were found positive for methanol.

The order was issued following reported incidents involving two women who fell ill shortly after allegedly consuming the said gin. The victims were rushed to separate hospitals where one of them reportedly died.

READ: FDA orders seizure, warns public of cosmic carabao gin

Methanol, according to the FDA, is a widely available chemical that has many industrial applications. It is also found in household products and fuel for aircraft.

Although it can occur naturally, the agency said, high concentrations of methanol could mean adulteration of the product.

The FDA also warned the public against the consumption of the said product as “this is currently unregistered and has been confirmed to contain a high level of methanol.”

But Juan Brew insists the company has been registered with the FDA since 2016 and its License to Operate is valid until 2023.

“Since 2016, the Company was granted ten individual Certificates of Product Registration (CPRs) for several varieties of beverages and not a single complaint was brought to our attention since then,” it said.

It also stressed it is aware of the unverified reports on social media about a case of methanol poisoning involving its product and that it has coordinated with the FDA probe.

“We assure the public that JBI is exerting all efforts to coordinate and cooperate with the FDA and other relevant agencies,” the brewer said.

“In the meantime, JBI has recalled Cosmic Carabao and has suspended the distribution thereof. Rest assured, JBI is continuously dedicated in creating quality products with equal regard for consumer health,” it added.

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Farmers to lose P114-B a year if farm gate price of palay remains low — Piñol

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

Rice farmers in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – Local farmers may lose up to P114 billion if the farm gate price of fresh palay remains low, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol.

At present, the price of palay ranges only from P12/kg to P14/kg which is lower than the P20/kg, the price that was in effect before the implementation of the Rice Tarrification Law (RTL) in March.

Secretary Piñol noted that traders earn huge income from the liberalization of rice importation.

He also pointed out that the landed cost of rice is only a small amount like those which are imported from Myanmar which is only P18/kg.

Because the new law stripped off National Food Authority’s (NFA) regulatory function, traders have become aggressive in pushing for more importation.

“Masyadong ganadong mag-import yung mga trader right now kasi feeling nila wala ng magko-control sa presyo ng bentahan ng bigas sa palengke. So napakalaki ng margin of profit nila, (Traders have become more aggressive to import because they believe nobody else will control the pricing of rice in local markets so their margin of profit is increasing),” the Agriculture chief said.

Based on the Department of Agriculture’s monitoring, rice prices at present ranges from P32/kg up to P70/kg with only about P1 to P2 drop per kilogram.

This is about a quarter of the expected reduction in the price of commercial rice in relation to the implementation of the rice tariffication law which is supposedly P7/kg.

The Department is set to implement the suggested retail price (SRP) on commercial rice starting next week which ranges from P35/kg to P38/kg.

“We would like to address the greed of some importers doon sa markup nilang napakalaki (regarding their very high markup) by setting a cap on the selling price of imported rice

The official said the implementation of the SRP is based on the Price Act wherein violators may be fined.

The NFA already implemented the SRP on rice in the past but it was invalidated due to the implementation of the RTL.

Piñol said that the law did not specify a limit on the amount of rice that the country may import.

However, it gives the President the authority to increase tariff in the event of oversupply. – with details from Rey Pelayo

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FDA orders seizure, warns public of Cosmic Carabao Gin

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

Cosmic Carabao | Courtesy: Juan Brew Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday ordered the seizure of Cosmic Carabao Gin products after its samples were found positive for methanol.

In an advisory, the FDA said the order was issued following the reported incidents involving two women who fell ill shortly after allegedly consuming the said gin. The victims were rushed to separate hospitals where one of them reportedly died.

FDA officer-in-charge Eric Domingo earlier said he received a report that one of the victims had methanol poisoning.

Methanol, according to the FDA, a widely available chemical that has many industrial applications is also found in household products and fuel for aircraft.

Non-toxic trace amounts of methanol can also be naturally found in fruit juices. It can also be a product of natural fermentation and is found in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

The FDA said higher concentrations of methanol in alcoholic drinks can happen when methanol is deliberately added to alcoholic drinks.

Signs and symptoms of methanol poisoning include vomiting, abdominal pain, hyperventilation and feeling of breathlessness. Blindness can also happen in severe cases.

The FDA said the Cosmic Carabao Gin was manufactured by Juan Brewing, Inc.

In its website, Juan Brew said the clear liquid craft gin is “an out of this world citrus-forward Gin,” made with “distilled water, neutral spirit (from sugarcane), juniper berries, coriander seeds, dayap lime, angelica plant root, kaffir leaves, green, cardamom pods.”

In its Facebook post, the company said it is now verifying reports but did not address questions regarding the product’s certificate of product registration.

“We would like to emphasize that our company is dedicated to the highest standard in [the] processing of our products and puts the health of our consumers above all,” it said.

In a separate advisory, the FDA said it has ordered the “sealing of all raw materials, including in-process distillates, and seizure of all unregistered Cosmic Carabao Gin” in the facility of Juan Brewing Inc. and all those that are on sale in the market.

It also requested local government units and law enforcement agencies to ensure that this product is not sold or made available in their areas of jurisdiction.

The FDA also warns the public against the consumption of the said product as “this is currently unregistered and has been confirmed to contain a high level of methanol.”

“Consumers must also exercise extreme caution in buying alcoholic drinks, especially those that do not have labels, poorly printed labels or with broken seals,” it added.

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