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

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

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)

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34 of 400 samples of pork products tested positive of African Swine Fever – BAI

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 19th, 2019

Boxes of pork items from Poland intercepted in Cebu on June 27 | Courtesy: BAI

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a number of pork products from Hong Kong and China at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in between June 19 to 28.

The items didn’t have sanitary and phytosanitary clearances from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and could have been infested by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

China is one of the 19 countries from where entry of pork and pork-based products are banned.

From a total of 400 samples that BAI examined, 34 tested positive of ASF and these products could have caused infestation in the country’s hog industry if they were not intercepted.

Germany was the latest addition to the list of countries where entry of pork products to the Philippines was banned.

Though there were no reports yet of ASF-infestation in Germany, the Philippines included it in the list after a German company exported pork products to the Philippines along with some 250 kilograms of pork from ASF-hit Poland.

The said shipment was intercepted in Cebu on June 27 which included 27 boxes of pork items from Poland.

That incident, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, was a clear violation of the country’s Quarantine Law thus resulting in the ban of pork products from Germany.

“Nakikiusap ako.(‘Im appealing to you) Please understand, these are extraordinary times. We cannot take the risk,” Secretary Piñol said.

“Kasi tingnan mo, Germany napaka-respectable na bansa nyan. It’s export country known for its high standards, nasingitan tayo, (You see Germany is a highly respected country. It’s exports are known for its high standards but some banned (pork) slip past their screening,)” he explained.

Piñol stressed that ASF infestation would compromise the country’s P260-B worth of hog industry.

Some of the Philippines’ neighboring countries have already declared an outbreak of ASF such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked store owners to self-recall pork products from China that covers those manufactured since the start of the import ban.

Still, Piñol assures the Philippines’ hog industry remains ASF free. – with reports 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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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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