THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has directed local government units (LGUs) in all provinces to allow the distribution and sale of processed pork meat products subject to certain conditions.
Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, though, is standing pat on her directive to temporarily ban for 100 days the entry of live hogs, pork-related products and byproducts from Luzon into Cebu Province. The ban ends on Dec. 28 yet.
An advisory posted on the DILG’s official website dated Oct. 16, 2019, said a Memorandum Circular was issued to governors, city and municipal mayors, and barangay captains for all LGUs to “strictly adhere to specific guidelines on the movement, distribution, and sale of processed meat products in the country.”
The memorandum aims to “protect the consumers as well as the stakeholders in the meat industry from any disruption in the flow of trade and commerce across the country.”
“Since the government has been acting aggressively and effectively to address the ASF (African swine fever) outbreak, we are urging all LGUs to lift the ban on processed meat products containing pork for as long as the products meet certain conditions imposed by the Department of Agriculture (DA),” said DILG Secretary Eduardo Año.
The memorandum circular also provides for “unrestricted movement” and distribution in all provinces for processed meat products that do not have pork as its ingredients such as corned beef, beef hotdogs, chicken nuggets and chicken hotdogs, among others.
It added that processed pork meat products should also be allowed to be distributed and sold to all provinces subject to conditions imposed by the DA.
Under the guidelines, meat products containing pork should be heat-treated or fully cooked according to internationally accepted standards adopted by the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc.
For canned meat products, they should be cooked at 116 degrees Celsius for at least 60 minutes, while hotdog, ham and bacon should be processed, smoked or cooked to a core temperature of at least 72 degrees centigrade for over one hour.
Smoked or cooked pork sausages, on the other hand, should be cooked to a core temperature of at least 72 degrees centigrade for at least 40 minutes.
Since imported pork is generally used by meat processors, the manufacturer or processor should present certification as to the source or origin from a non-ASF infected country supported by any acceptable document such as Veterinary Health Certificate of the exporting country and the Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary Import Permit issued by the DA.
On the other hand, if pork is sourced from local producers, a document issued by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) authorizing its movement or use for the production of processed meats should be shown to authorities.
At the Capitol, Garcia said all measures to ensure that Cebu remains ASF-free will remain in effect.
“I will always be respectful of Secretary Año. However, I believe that as governor of Cebu, my mandate and responsibility is to protect the province, the Cebuanos and our P10.9 billion hog industry upon which thousands of Cebuanos depend for their livelihood,” Garcia said.
The governor has issued five executive orders (EO), all laying down preventive measures to protect Cebu’s hog industry and top meat source against the ASF virus, which is fatal to pigs.
The issuance of EO 16 on Sept. 18, 2019 further amended earlier EOs related to ASF in order to implement a total ban on the entry of live hogs, pork, pork-related products, byproducts and boar semen from Luzon into Cebu for a period of 100 days.
For its part, a private organization of companies engaged in the agriculture industry is asking the DILG not to lift the ban on processed pork products.
In a press release, Samahang Industrya ng Agrikultura Chairman Rosendo So said they have requested the DA to test all frozen meat in cold storage facilities, through an independent third party like the SGS, but no official action has been taken.
“But there have been several incidences that confirmed the contamination of processed pork that entered our country and importation of pork products from banned countries by a member of Pampi,” he said.
In their letter sent to Año on Oct. 15, 2019, Tuesday, So pointed out that the president of Pampi himself, Felix Tiukinhoy Jr., confirmed that no test has been done to determine if their products are ASF-free.
“The hemorrhage to the industry caused by the ASF is real, catastrophic and in billions of pesos. And yet, we support the decision of Visayas and Mindanao LGUs to ban the entry of our products to their region to ensure that Visayas and Mindanao remain ASF-free,” said So. (RTF, JOB with PR)