Agri dept validating processed pork brands hit by swine fever

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 25 2019 09:07 AM

MANILA — The Department of Agriculture said Friday it is validating which 3 brands of processed pork tested positive for African swine fever.

Citing tests by the DA's Bureau of Animal Industry, 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.

The test samples were a mix of "locally processed" products, both branded and unbranded, lumped together in 2 containers from Central Luzon that were seized recently at a quarantine checkpoint, said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

"A portion of the DNA of the virus or genome ng virus, iyon po ang nakita natin (was what we saw)," he told radio DZMM.

"Magba-validate muna kami para itong iba't ibang brand o produkto ay ihihiwalay namin para titingnan natin kung positibo ba or consistent sa testing namin... Halo-halo nga, yon ang problema. Baka may kontaminasyon na nangyari," he added.

(We will still validate to separate these different brands or products so we could see if they are really positive for ASF or if it's consistent with our test. The products were all mixed together, that's the problem. There might have been contamination.)

ASF does not affect human health. However, the "mere handling" of ASF-tainted meat makes one a carrier of the virus, which he or she could then pass onto pigs, said Dar.

The virus, he noted, only dies if exposed to heat of at least 70 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.

"The person that handles iyong may ASF (the meat with ASF), they are now spreading, carrying the virus," he said.

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc (PAMPI) earlier said it was "unfair" that no brands were mentioned in the agriculture agency's report as these could hit the sales of all pork products.

Dar urged manufacturers to be careful in sourcing meat for their products because the use of ASF-contaminated pork is a violation of the Food Safety Act.

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

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 DA 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