Meat processors' group decries info leak on ASF-positive products

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 26 2019 11:39 AM | Updated as of Oct 26 2019 12:07 PM

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MANILA - A group of meat processing firms on Saturday decried the leak of alleged test results of processed meat showing that samples tested positive for African Swine Fever.

"It is a leaked information. Lumabas ito sa headline nung Huwebes, (this came out in the headlines on Thursday) supposedly to have been issued by BAI (Bureau of Animal Industry). Actually, BAI claims it was not issued by them but it is actually stolen by somebody and issued to the press most likely for malicious intent," said Rex Agarrado, spokesperson of the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc.

Agarrado said they already have an idea who released the unofficial test results.

He said samples of branded and unbranded processed meat products were seized by BAI from Calapan City on October 6.

"It was just unfortunate that that branded product was also in the same halo-halo sample na (mixed sample that) were collected by BAI," he said in an interview on DZMM.

The samples were all placed in a styrofoam box and sent to Manila. But it was only on Oct. 15, or 9 days after collection, that the samples was tested, said Agarrado.

He said when samples test positive, a retest should follow.

The PAMPI spokesperson said it wouldn't be fair to just name the brand that allegedly was processing meat contaminated with the virus.

"Naming that company is unfair kasi hindi pa siya official (because it is not yet official). Yes, we are afraid of ASF but then let's not destroy each other," Agarrado said.

This problem, he said, also raises the issue of locally produced pork that could also be positive for ASF finding its way to the market.
 
The group believes the timing of the release of the unofficial report is suspect.

"If you look back Monday, General [Eduardo] Año signed a memorandum circular that was asking the local government to open up para sa products namin (to our products)," he said, referring to the interior secretary.

Currently, 66 out of the country's 81 provinces have banned the entry of pork-based products. This has affected sales, said Agarrado.

"It was 2 days when the MC (memo) was released, hindi pa nakaabot sa mga LGUs, pinaputok po itong issue na ito," he said.

(The MC hasn’t even reached the LGUs when the issue came out.)

Agarrado urged authorities to investigate the person behind the leak and his motives.