African swine fever may enter PH through dumplings, vet warns

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 20 2019 07:16 PM

MANILA - A veterinarian on Wednesday warned of the possible entry of African swine fever (ASF) in the country via pork dumplings.

Dr. Eugenio Mende, president of the Philippine Veterinary Drug Association, said the disease may enter the country through siomai, dumplings, and other processed foods being sold by Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen to their local counterparts.

Mende raised the alarm during Wednesday’s Senate committee on agriculture and food hearing which centered on the possible entry of African swine fever in the country.

Mende said local fishermen, especially those frequenting the West Philippine Sea, shared stories of Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen selling dumpling and siomai in exchange of chicken pork adobo and cigarettes.

Mende said there is a possibility that pork used in those food items may have been infected with ASF, thus the need for authorities, specifically the Philippine Coast Guard to vigorously patrol the area and prohibit the practice.

Bureau of Animal Industry director Ronnie Domingo said their agency’s evaluation of the ASF possibility in the country was “very low,” noting the government’s consistent guarding of the country’s entry points.

An ASF virus can survive for 1,000 days even in frozen meat, according to Domingo.

To date, countries with recorded ASF are Kenya, Georgia, Belgium, Russia, Mongolia, Vietnam, and China.

Domingo, however, shared the experiences of their personnel tasked to confiscate meat products brought into the country by overseas Filipino workers and visiting foreigners.

“Minumura po nila kami… Iuuwi lang daw namin yung karne,” Domingo told the panel headed by Sen. Migz Zubiri.

Tourists from ASF affected countries visiting the Philippines on a cruise must also be prevented from bringing in imported meat, Zubiri said.

“Dapat pagbaba mo pa lang meron ng babala. Sa ibang bansa pagbaba mo pa lang sa eroplano.. sa eroplano ina-announce na.. dapat nilalagay na sa trash bins.. para di na kayo minumura,” he said.

Engineer Rosendo So, president of Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, meantime appealed for the government to impose a temporary ban on all meat imports, particularly those coming from Belgium and Poland.

So also recommended high fines for individuals who will attempt to import meat despite the ban.

Dr. Rufina Salas, chair of the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries, also moved for the temporary ban of imported meat.

“We would like to ask for a temporary ban of all meat importation.. this ASF thing should be elevated to a higher level as a national level issue,” she told the committee.