MANILA - The Department of Agriculture on Friday said it was premature to name brands of processed meat products that may have been contaminated with the deadly African Swine Fever (ASF) virus.
"At this time it’s premature to name na 'yun pong nakitaan na 'yun ay may contaminant na po o nakakahawa sa kapwa niya baboy," said Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan.
(It’s premature to name and say that that sample is contaminated or can cause infection among pigs.)
In an interview on ANC's Headstart, Cayanan said before brands are named, samples must go through testing like the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and viral isolation to establish the presence of ASF and whether the virus was still alive or dead.
But he said they are now in coordination with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) following these reports.
"These are processed meat at ang may mandate po dito will be the Food and Drug Administration under DOH (Department of Health). What we will be doing is coordination. Ang source ng process is raw which is ours, 'yun pong buhay na baboy, na-slaughter eventually, naging meat for processing," Cayanan said.
(The Food and Drug Administration under the DOH has the mandate for processed meat. The source is raw which is ours, but when it’s eventually slaughtered it becomes meat for processing.)
Cayanan said the DA's job is to test the presence or absence of ASF genome and results would be forwarded to the FDA for appropriate action.
A group of hog raisers earlier said 3 brands of tocino, longganisa and hotdog were positive for the virus that causes hemorrhagic fever in pigs that almost always ends in death.
Cayanan said that in Mindoro, test samples collected from one branded and 2 unbranded processed meat products were placed in the same container, making cross contamination possible.
"Kaya po hindi natin maa-attribute na 'yung branded na sinasabi ay siya po ang source, baka po na-contaminate sa container na 'yun," he said.
(We can’t attribute it to the branded one which they say was the source because the container could be contaminated.)
He assured the public that processed meat that may have been contaminated with the virus is safe to eat as long as it is cooked properly.
"Pero hindi naman po natin inaadbokasiya na kumain ng infected," he said.
(But we do not advocate the consumption of infected meat.)
He said they are discouraging meat processors from using contaminated meat.
"Because of the Food Safety Act, we are not also encouraging processors to use meat that are contaminated. Kaya mayroon tayong NMIS (that's why we have a National Meat Inspection Service) certification that assures those meat processed by processors are free of ASF," he said.
Around 60,000 hogs have been culled in different parts of the country since ASF was first reported here in September to prevent the spread of the virus.
Cayanan said the number of afflicted pigs is just a fraction compared to the around 12 million hog population in the country.
The DA is looking at swill feeding and trading of infected meat as some of the causes of the spread of the virus. He said cooperation is important and urged the public to report possible cases of ASF immediately.
"The control, manage and contain mechanism is there but there is an appreciation already that the DA alone cannot do it kaya na-create 'yung (that's why we created the) national task force," he said.