Tocino with ASF? African swine fever in processed meat products alarms traders

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2019 08:07 AM | Updated as of Oct 26 2019 08:45 AM

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MANILA - A group of meat processors said Thursday it was "seriously checking" reports that 3 pork products allegedly tested positive for African swine fever. 

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc (PAMPI) only received information from reporters and hog raisers, not authorities, that 3 brands of hotdog, longganisa and tocino were positive for the deadly virus, said its spokesperson Rex Agarrado. 

"We are seriously checking kung ano ito (what this is)," he told radio DZMM. 

"Unfair nga po, very unfair 'pag walang brand na ime-mention kasi lahat tatamaan. Sa totoo lang hindi kami maka-respond. Wala kaming hawak [na impormasyon]," he added. 

(It's very unfair if no brand is being mentioned because everyone will be hit. In truth, we can't respond because we don't have any information.) 

He appealed to the Bureau Of Animal Industry, "Let's respect each other, kami po ang bigyan ninyo [ng impormasyon], kami po ang apektado." 

(Give us information, we're the ones who are affected.) 

The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) first monitored the report on Facebook and the agriculture department confirmed it to them, said the group's chairman Rosendo So. 

PAMPI imports "90 to 95 percent" of the meat used in its products from ASF-free countries that meet international standards, said Agarrado. 

The Bureau of Customs, however, only inspects pork shipments briefly, claimed So. 

"Iyong checking ng kargamento, hindi ginagawa sa pier. Nagbubukas lang sila, sarado aga tas inilalabas na. Dapat sa first border pa lang, chini-check na ito," he said in a separate radio DZMM. 

(Cargo checking is not done at the pier. They only open the containers, close it immediately and release it. It should be checked immediately at the border.) 

"Ang SINAG magfa-file ng case kung sinong hindi susunod doon sa batas," he warned. 

(SINAG will file cases against those who do not follow the law.) 

BAI did not immediately respond to radio DZMM's request for interview.

African swine fever causes hemorrhagic fever in pigs that almost always ends in death, but cannot be transmitted to humans and other animals. 

An outbreak of the virus in parts of Rizal and Bulacan provinces has prompted authorities to cull around 7,000 hogs.

Pork accounts for 60 percent of meat consumption in the Philippines, the world's 8th biggest pork producer by volume, with its swine industry estimated at P260 billion, the Deparment of Agriculture earlier said. 

Authorities suspect the swine fever cases stemmed from backyard hog raisers who feed pigs "swill", leftover food scraps from hotels and restaurants.

The agriculture department added the virus could also be traced to smuggled frozen meat and returning overseas Filipino workers who brought back infected meat products. With a report from Agence France-Presse