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

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2019   •   3192

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)

Animal protection group warns: improper culling may further spread ASF

Marje Pelayo   •   September 23, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – An animal protection group is calling on the government to strictly impose international guidelines on culling virus-infected animals amid the ongoing outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF).

The World Animal Protection (WAP) condemned the improper way of culling ASF-infected pigs, particularly in Barangay Cupang in Antipolo City last August wherein the people who facilitated the culling were not wearing any protective gear as shown in the video.

In some instances, the pigs were even buried alive.

WAP said such practice might facilitate further spread of the virus.

“Kung mayroong fluids na lumalabas doon sa baboy or dugo (If there are fluids from the pig’s body or blood) any vehicle that will run over the fluids or the mud, will be a vector for transmission,” WAP Global farming director, Mark Dia said.

The group argued that the government must be transparent when it comes to information regarding the outbreak that the public needs to know.

“Kasi kung hindi sigurado ang mga tao (If the people doing it are not sure of what they’re doing) they might have been trying to sell the meat, process the meat, transport the meat, hide the pigs, throw away the pigs, while all of that is happening there is active transmission,” Dia added.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) announced on September 19 that it was indeed ASF that infected the pigs in Rizal and Bulacan after the agency received the confirmatory tests from a laboratory in Europe.

“(Sometimes) when there is no information, panic actually is the natural reaction,” Dia explained.

“Hindi lang tao, pati gamit, pati kutsilyo, mga ginamit pati yung syringes kung ginamit pati yung mga sasakyan kung merong dugo, merong fluids doon sa lupa at merong putik na dinaanan (Not just through human contact but through objects like knives, syringes, even vehicle wheels that run through infected blood or other fluids on the ground),” the animal protection advocate said.

The group noted that it took countries with an earlier recorded infection like Lithuania and Belgium 20 to 25 years before they finally eliminated the African Swine Fever virus into their pig livestock.

According to WAP, the government should strictly impose appropriate disinfecting procedures to fully eradicate the virus.

“There should be at least 30 minutes contact with the disinfectant para mamatay ang (for the virus to die),” Dia noted.

Meanwhile, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte reported early on Monday (September 23) that the culling operations in Barangay Payatas already brought down 400 ASF-infected pigs, aside from about 300 previously culled in Barangay Bagong Silangan. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Pig scale operators, traders irked over loss of income due to ASF scare

Marje Pelayo   •   September 23, 2019

BULACAN, Philippines – Pig scaling and trading posts in the municipality of Guiguinto remain closed due to the outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF).

The Provincial Veterinary Office has placed four sentinel pigs in the trading post in Barangay Pritil to observe if the ASF virus still persists in the area despite after disinfection.

“Ini-observe nila kung tatamaan iyon o mayroon pa, (the sentinel pigs are being monitored for infection, to see if the virus persists),” explained Eduardo Jose, the municipal veterinarian.

“Sa ngayon, buhay pa naman iyong mga piglets na nilagay doon. May possibility wala na doon sa area, (So far, the piglets are still alive. Possibly, the virus has been eliminated in the area),” he added.

Since the sentinel pigs remain healthy, traders appeal to the government to allow them to resume their operation as the temporary closure of the trading post has hugely affected their income.

“Pagbigyan ninyo na kami makapag hanapbuhay, (Allow us to earn a living),” Sheryl Santiago Macario, a pig scale operator said.

“May isang buwan na po kaming hindi kumikita, (We’ve had no income for a month already),” she added.

 The sentinel pigs will be observed for three months.

After which, the Provincial Veterinary Office will discuss protocols before they declare the municipality free of ASF.

Pig scale operators earn P30 for one pig they are asked to weigh while P20 for each pig being stationed in their post before the animal is delivered to the slaughterhouse. – MNP (with details from Nestor Torres)

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.

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