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Meat processors: Products safe

September 21, 2019

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) assured the public on Friday the pork-based products produced by its members are “guaranteed to be wholesome and safe for human consumption.”

On Sept. 9, 2019, the Department of Agriculture confirmed that African swine fever (ASF) has hit the country and assured the public that quarantine and monitoring protocols were in place to protect the hog industry.

“Pampi members use pork raw materials that come only from sources — local or foreign — that are free from ASF,” Pampi President Felix Tiukinhoy Jr. said in a statement.

The group also took a swipe at the moves by a number local government units (LGUs) imposing bans on meat products.

“The national economy will be seriously damaged if LGUs persist on imposing an unnecessary and unwarranted ban,” it said.

Several LGUs imposed a ban on the movement and sale of processed pork-based products on “false” belief that these carried the ASF virus, Pampi said.

“The belief is totally false because processed meats/processed pork-based products are cooked at temperatures ranging from 70 degrees Celsius (C) to 116 C for 40 to 60 minutes,” it said.

“At those cooking temperatures, the ASF virus is killed. The World Organization for Animal Health or OIE has ruled that the ASF virus is inactivated by heat at 56 C for 70 minutes or 60 C for 20 minutes,” it said.

Pampi added that its members use only pork raw materials that come from sources that are free from ASF.

“Nevertheless, the ASF virus does not pose any risk to the health of human beings,” it said.

ASF is a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease affecting domestic and wild pigs. The ASF virus does not pose a health risk to humans, according to the OIE.

Pampi warned that the adverse effects of an unwarranted ban by LGUs would be strongly felt by consumers, retailers, logistics providers, processors and even hog raisers from whom processors purchase part of their pork raw materials during the coming holiday season.

“As of today, a number of meat processors have already decided to scale down their production output in view of the uncertain business environment caused by unfounded LGU policies,” Pampi said.

“In conclusion, it is best for national or local authorities to look for the cause[s] of the spread and transmission of the ASF virus elsewhere, rather than processed meat products,” it added.

House member seeks probe

Meanwhile, Magsasaka party-list Rep. Argel Cabatbat on Monday filed a resolution at the House of Representatives seeking an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the status of ASF “proliferation” in the country.

The resolution has been pending with the House Committee on Rules since Wednesday based on the House’s website.

“Whereas, the Department of Agriculture (DA) have confirmed the first African swine fever outbreak in Bulacan and Rizal last Sept. 9, 2019, after 14 out of 20 blood samples tested in the United Kingdom was confirmed to be positive with ASF virus,” the resolution stated in part.

“Whereas, DA Secretary William Dar stated that in order to prevent the spread of disease, 7,416 hogs have been culled within the 1-kilometer radius of the affected areas as of Sept. 9, 2019,” it stated.

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