Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on Thursday assured the public that fresh meat being sold at the Divisoria Public Market is safe for consumption.
Estrada pointed this out following the discovery and confiscation of 300 kilos of mishandled frozen meat from unlicensed street vendors a few meters away from the public market.
“No meat traders and vendors in Divisoria Market sell meat and processed meat products that did not pass rigorous inspection. They all strictly follow proper meat-handling regulations,” Estrada said.
Estrada sought to clarify misleading reports that the 300 kilos of mishandled meat confiscated last Wednesday were found inside the Divisoria Market.
Citing a report from the city’s Veterinary Inspection Board and Market Administration Office, the mayor said VIB inspectors and those from the National Meat Inspection Service stumbled upon the potentially contaminated meat from the makeshift stalls of street vendors at the corner of Ilaya Street corner Claro M. Recto Avenue, several meters away from the Divisoria Public Market.
“This is clear misinformation and damage has been done,” Estrada said, noting that the erroneous reports have unnecessarily alarmed the buying public and legitimate meat traders at Divisoria.
MAO chief Annie Balboa said she was informed that the footage and photos aired by some media outlets were old files from earlier operations, not of Wednesday’s raid by VIB and NMIS personnel.
“The raid was conducted in the streets, outside and far from Divisoria Market. The location of the raid was in Ilaya Street corner Claro M. Recto Avenue. It is very clear that this was not in Divisoria Market, which is several meters away from where the raid was conducted,” Balboa pointed out.
“The ambulant vendors raided in Ilaya Street had no meat inspection certificates,” Balboa stressed.
As directed by Estrada, Balboa said market masters and VIB inspectors have been going around the city’s 17 public markets every day to conduct surprise and thorough inspections of fresh and cooked meat.
Additionally, a special three-man inspection team was also created to inspect private shopping malls such as SM, Robinson’s, supermarkets like Puregold, restaurants, and hotels within Manila.
Following the confiscation of “double dead” lechon being sold also “outside” the Paco public market last month, Estrada has since alerted the city’s meat inspectors against the entry of “botcha” or tainted meat in the city.
Estrada remarked that with the start of “ber” months leading to Christmas, unscrupulous vendors would again resort to selling botcha, which refers to the meat of sick livestock or poultry that were still slaughtered and sold, due to increased demand for meat and processed meat products.
“Botcha” is typically priced lower than the meat that has passed the NMIS inspection.