LGUs check stores amid recall of pork products due to African Swine Fever scare

Marje Pelayo   •   May 29, 2019   •   2068

Courtesy: Dr. Paul Tolentino Foronda

MANILA, Philippines – Some local government units have begun inspecting grocery and retail stores in their areas for available pork and pork-based products amid African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak in some European and Asian countries.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday (May 28) issued a recall order on all pork and pork-based items from local markets to prevent the possible spread of the deadly pig virus.

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

Dr. Paul Toletino Foronda, municipal veterinarian of Dinalupihan, Bataan posted on his Facebook page images of their initiative to remind grocery stores to self-recall the prohibited items from their respective shelves pending turn over to the FDA.

Foronda said they were able to convince store owners to pull out of more than 800 cans of ‘Ma Ling’ brand luncheon meat throughout their rounds.

Foronda wishes that they may be given authority to confiscate the banned items to keep consumers from buying them.

“We do what we can to help. Gusto sana namin mabigyan na kami ng order to dispose para mai-alis na agad ang risk (We wish to be given order to dispose so we could immediately remove the risk),” Foronda said.

The initiative is also being done in Parañaque City.

Meanwhile, supermarket owners said they might return the items to their suppliers.

They clarified, however, that similar items with manufacturing dates earlier than the August 2018 effectivity of the import ban can still be purchased in their stores.

“Makikipag-away na lang kami sa mga supplier namin (We have no choice but to deal with our suppliers),” noted Steven Cua, president of the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarket Association.

“Siempre, binili na iyan. Binayaran na. Isosoli ninyo pa sa amin. Ngayon kung meron silang ibang item hindi lang naman iyong item na karga nila, palit nalang. Swap (The items have been paid already. The suppliers might object if we return them. But we may ask to swap the banned items with other products),” he added.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said they will request the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to direct the local governments to assist the DA and the FDA in confiscating the products as well as apprehending the violators. – (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

US bans fruit, mint vaping cartridges to curb youth use

Robie de Guzman   •   January 3, 2020

Washington – The United States Food and Drug Administration on Thursday banned the sale of unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarettes, including fruit and mint, in an attempt to reduce their use among children and youth.

The decision, in which companies have 30 days to cease manufacture, distribution and sales, aims to reduce the “troubling epidemic” among youth, although for some sectors it is seen as a step back from the original plan of the President Donald Trump administration to ban all flavors.

“The United States has never seen an epidemic of substance use arise as quickly as our current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in the FDA statement.

On September 11 last year, Azar announced that the Trump administration planned to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes except tobacco after the first deaths linked to their use were made public.

At that time, Trump, in statements from the Oval Office with Azar and other officials, said that vaping is a problem that especially affects “innocent children.”

In October, Juul, the largest manufacturer of e-cigarettes in the US, announced it was suspending sales of most of its flavors in the country ahead of the ban, although it anticipated that it would continue to manufacture tobacco and menthol flavors.

The same month, The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration was considering allowing the sale of some flavors so as not to put at risk the re-election of Trump, whose campaign team has warned of the electoral impact that the plan to ban all flavored e-cigarettes would have amid possible job losses and voter backlash.

The report said Trump’s campaign chief Brad Parscale warned that the plan to reduce vaping among young people could hurt Trump in the 2020 election.

Groups working in the industry also created a pushback campaign called #IvapeIVote and #WeVapeWeVote.

In its statement, the FDA cited federal survey data to show that young people are particularly attracted to flavors such as fruit and mint, more so than to tobacco or menthol.

According to local media, 55 people have died across 27 states due to a lung illness linked to vaping. EFE-EPA

lb/tw

NMIS asked to explain ASF-contaminated pork found in supermarket

Marje Pelayo   •   January 3, 2020

FILE PHOTO: Pork sold at a supermarket

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) demands an explanation from the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) as to how African Swine Fever or ASF-contaminated pork ended up in the chillers of a supermarket in Quezon City.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar revealed that the City Veterinary Office discovered the ASF-infected meat sometime in December 2019.

“They brought samples from all the chillers and one chiller where the source came from was the only one found positive,” Dar confirmed.

The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) then confirmed that the said batch of pork was indeed infected with ASF virus.

Dar said the supplier, identified as North Star, was already issued with a notice of closure.

The Secretary added, however, that it is up to the Quezon City government to file charges against the said supplier.

The official calls on supermarket owners not to sell contaminated pork to prevent the spread of ASF. – MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

FDA asks LGUs to crackdown on unregistered ‘lambanog’

Marje Pelayo   •   December 24, 2019

MANILA, Philippines –  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is asking local government units (LGUs) to enforce strict regulation against purchase and consumption of distilled coconut sap locally known as ‘lambanog.’

The request comes after reports that drinking lambanog with high content of methanol caused the deaths of 11 individuals in Laguna and Quezon.

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hereby warns the public on the purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages that have not undergone the safety evaluation of this agency,” the FDA said in its advisory.

“All Local Government Units and Law Enforcement Agencies are requested to ensure that these products are not sold or made available in their localities or areas of jurisdiction,” the agency further said.

According to FDA: “Ingestion of product with an elevated amount of methanol poses serious adverse effects such as blindness, permanent neurologic dysfunction, and even death.”

On Monday (December 23), Mayor Vener Muñoz of Rizal, Laguna declared a state of emergency in his town to address the situation.

Muñoz ordered all individuals who have taken the concerned brand of lambanog to subject themselves into medical consultation.

Among them were Francisco and Delia who rushed to the center to verify their condition.

“Magsisiguro lang kami na makaligtas, (We just want to confirm to be safe,)” said Francisco Solqua.

“Ang balita ko walo na, siempre nenerbyusin ka at walo na ang namatay, (We heard in the news that eight already died and that worries us,)” he added.

“Gusto lang naming magpa-checkuo kasi nakainom kami noon, (We wanted to be checked because we, too, have taken it,)” Delia Monserat said.

Based on the record of the Rizal Municipal Health Office, they already have more than 300 patients under observation.

Symptoms of poisoning manifested among the victims include severe stomach pain, blurring vision, nausea and vomiting after drinking lambanog, according to Rizal MHO Administrative Officer John Michael Gangay.

“Based doon sa findings ng PGH sa ilan na dinala duon may nag-positive sa methanol intoxification, (Based on the findings of the [Philippine General Hospital] from those who were brought there, they were positive of methanol intoxification,)” Gangay said.

The municipal government has already ordered a temporary ban on sale and purchase of Lambanog.

“Kahit kami ay nabigla. Hindi namin alam na may mangyayaring ganito sa bayan namin, (We were also surprised that something like this happened to our place,)” said Antonio Aurello, Rizal Vice Mayor.

“We are doing our best para ma-extend ang tulong sa aming mga kababayan, (help to our kababayans.)” he added.

The Rizal PNP already seized all available supply from the store in Barangay Pook where the victims bought the lambanog while an investigation is ongoing.

“Iimbestigahan natin ito ng mabuti at posibleng magsampa tayo ng demanda laban sa may ari ng Rey Lambanog na si Mr. Fred Rey, (We will investigate this thoroughly and possibly we will file charges against the owner of Rey Lambanog, Mr. Fred Rey,)” explained Police Capt. Lindley Tibuc, the Chief of Rizal Police, said.

“Posibleng madamay ang kaniyang anak na nakapangalan sa DTI, (His son might be implicated because of the registered name in the DTI,)” the official added.

The manufacturer who is based in San Juan, Batangas has already ordered a recall of the lambanog from all its traders.

The supplier will face charges of negligence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries.

A similar case of lambanog poisoning was reported in December 2018 where 10 persons died in Laguna, Quezon and Bulacan.

The FDA, meanwhile, advises the public to exercise extreme caution in purchasing and consuming unregistered alcoholic beverages.

As of press time, only 14 brands of lambanog have certification from FDA.

“Retail outlets, and other dealers of alcoholic beverages, are warned against the sale of unregistered products which is a violation of the FDA Act of 2009 and the Food Safety Act of 2013,” the agency said – MNP (with inputs fro Sherwin Culubong)

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