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

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2019   •   3568

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)

Filipinos from Wuhan ‘all well and safe’, cleared to go home after quarantine – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos repatriated from Wuhan City in China are now allowed to go home as they showed no signs and symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after their 14-day quarantine period, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

In a statement, the DOH said the 30 Filipinos and 19 others who returned from Wuhan – the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak – will be released after they manifested no signs of fever, cough, or sore throat during their 14-day stay at the quarantine facility in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.

A send-off ceremony will be held on February 22, Saturday to mark the completion of their mandatory quarantine, the department said.

“We are glad that our repatriates are all well and safe from COVID-19. Our repatriation mission is not possible without the dedication and cooperation of the entire Interagency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases with all its member agencies,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

“We are extremely grateful for the collective effort of the government,” he added.

The DOH, meanwhile, revealed that another batch of Filipinos is set to be quarantined in the facility following their arrival this weekend.

This batch is composed of about 460 to 480 Filipinos from the virus-hit M/V Diamond Princess cruise ship who availed of the government’s repatriation program.

The health department said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has already adopted a repatriation plan for the return of the Filipinos from Yokohama, Japan.

They are also coordinating with the World Health Organization, the Philippine Embassy in Japan and the Magsaysay Maritime Corporation for the repatriation process.

Under the repatriation plan, the DOH shall provide health human resources and transportation to the quarantine site, on-site medical needs of the repatriates, hospitalization expenses through Philhealth, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the first five days of the quarantine period.

Magsaysay Maritime Corporation will bear the cost of transportation expenses, food, lodging, personal hygiene kits and disinfectants, and other expenses.

The Department of Transportation will shoulder the transportation of repatriates from Haribon hangar in Pampanga to New Clark City, while the OWWA will provide livelihood packages to the repatriates, and their transportation from Manila to their respective destinations after the quarantine period.

“We would like to assure Filipinos abroad that our government is working tirelessly to ensure that no Filipino gets left behind in our fight against COVID-19. DOH and the Philippine government are prepared to undertake all measures to care for our kababayans, no matter where they are,” Duque said.

DA Bicol confirms positive cases of African Swine Fever in CamSur

Marje Pelayo   •   February 21, 2020

BICOL, Philippines – Tests on organ samples collected from dead pigs in a barangay in Bombon, Camarines Sur revealed contamination of African Swine Fever (ASF).

Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Director Rodel Tornilla in a statement on Thursday (February 20) confirmed that swine mortality in Barangay Sto. Domingo in Bombon was caused by the deadly pig virus.

Tornilla assured that the DA and the local government of Bombon are implementing measures to manage, contain and control the pig disease.

The most recent incident of swine mortality due to ASF was reported in Davao Occidental and Davao City.

READ: DA to probe how ASF reached Davao Occidental

BAI warns pork dishes may spread African Swine Fever

Marje Pelayo   •   February 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) expressed concern that African Swine Fever (ASF) has already reached even remote barangays in the country.

BAI suspects that the ASF virus that reached Davao Occidental may have been brought through “pasalubongs” of food gifts in the form of processed pork or pork dishes prepared during the holidays last December.

Likewise, food leftovers or swills from these gatherings may have been contaminated by ASF.

Kasama sa mga pasalubong na iyan mga processed na karne na maaring nanggaling doon sa lugar na may African Swine Fever (Among these food gifts may have been processed meat from areas infected by African Swine Fever),” Domingo said.

Siguro iyong mga tira-tirang pagkain ay naipakain sa mga alagang baboy. After several weeks lumitaw na iyong sakit sa mga lugar na hindi natin inaasahan (Leftover foods may have been fed to pigs. After several weeks, the virus emerged in areas we did not expect to be infected),” he added.

Domingo said it would be difficult to detect such food items at checkpoints especially if they were skillfully concealed in bags and containers.

Ang problema natin kapag ang byahero ay inilagay niya sa personal bag niya na maliit iyong karne o kaya sa private vehicle (One problem is when a traveler places the pork dish inside his or her personal bag inside a private vehicle),” Domingo noted.

O kaya ang may dala-dala ng paninda, ang bag, hindi naman pinapara iyan sa mga checkpoint (Or the pork meat were concealed inside a bag, they are not flagged down in checkpoints),” he added.

The official calls on the public to ensure that they are purchasing pork meat and pork-based products with certification from proper authorities such as the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) and the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

Disinfection efforts, meanwhile, are ongoing on transporting vehicles at BAI checkpoints in the country.

BAI already accounted about 230,000 pigs that were culled and have died due to ASF but only 20% of this was directly infected by ASF. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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