Cavite province has lifted the ban on the sale and distribution of processed pork products following consultations with officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla issued Executive Order No. 34 dated Oct. 24, 2019 to adopt the guidelines and recommendations set by Agriculture Secretary Dar who is the acknowledged as the national authority on agricultural matters.
Cavite is the first province to break away from a group of 65 provincial governors who fell for allegations by hog raisers that processed meats could infect their pigs with African swine fever. The allegations are false and imaginary, according to meat processors.
Both OIE and Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) have confirmed that processed meats, when cooked at a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes, cannot spread the ASF virus because in case it is present, the virus is killed at such temperature.
“Canned goods and processed pork products may be transported as long as the same is authorized by the FDA and other concerned government agencies,” Remulla said in the order.
Remulla’s order is considered credible as Cavite is the only province in the Philippines which has earned excellent management certification under ISO 9001-2008. The ISO certification means that Cavite has an effective leadership governance which is widely accepted by constituents throughout the province.
In the same order, Remulla said that all “hotels, restaurants, eateries, cafeterias, canteens, fast food chains and other food establishments shall be prohibited from selling or giving their leftovers or spoiled food to hog raisers”.
He said the feeding of swill or food wastes to the pigs in the province is strictly prohibited.
Swill feeding is suspected to have caused the first outbreak of ASF in Rodriquez town (Montalban), Rizal. It is listed by animal disease experts as among major causes of ASF transmission. The others are infected animals, ticks and flies and contaminated premises, vehicles, equipment and clothes. Processed meats are not listed as ASF carriers.
While EO 34 lifted the ban on the sale and distribution of processed pork products, it still prohibits the transport of live pigs, fresh or frozen pork, unless cleared by BAI or the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).
Sixty-four provinces still impose arbitrary ban on processed pork products from Luzon. Only the provinces in the Bangsa Moro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao did not impose the ban as most of its population don’t eat pork.
ASF is a highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease that affects domestic and wild pigs of all ages. It is characterized by high fever, loss of appetite, hemorrhage in the skin and internal organs, often resulting in death which follows from two to days of infection. There is no vaccine or treatment against ASF.
About 65 percent of hog raisers in the Philippines are backyard growers who do not regularly subject their animals to veterinary inspection and who mainly rely on swill for feeds. The ASF virus can be easily carried by flies that swarm pork cuts in wet markets to backyard piggeries.
The Philippine swine industry which had a population of 12.78 million heads as of July 2018, making the country the world’s eighth largest pork producer.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) has repeatedly said that processed meat products are safe to eat.