The Trade and Agriculture departments on Thursday assured the public that raw pork with certifications from the National Meat Inspection Service and processed pork products from trusted brands were safe to consume and should not be banned in supermarkets and wet markets.
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Both departments and the National Food Authority monitored the prices of pork products in Farmers Market, Mega Q Mart, and Kamuning Public Market Thursday and found that the prevailing prices of pork were stable ranging from P200 to P220, but vendors said that public fear from the virus was affecting pork demand.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, for her part, ordered for samples to be taken from hogs in La Loma.
“Our industry there is quite big and we have to protect our business there. That is why I asked for samples to be taken from there as well just so we can reassure the public,” Belmonte said.
At the same time, a party-list lawmaker sought a congressional inquiry into the outbreak of African swine fever in Rizal and Bulacan provinces.
Party-list Rep. Argel Cabatbat of Magsasaka, who suspects that pork smuggling is the cause of the outbreak, filed House Resolution 336 urging the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to look into the outbreak.
“It is the responsibility of the government to take all actions necessary to protect the livelihood of our hog raisers and the hog industry as a whole,” Cabatbat told a news conference.
“We suspect that the cause of the infection is smuggling,” he added.
The Department of Agriculture earlier declared outbreak of the disease in Guiguinto, Bulacan; Rodriguez, Rizal, and Antipolo City.
Similarly, 14 of the 20 blood samples from pigs in suspected areas were found to be positive for African swine fever, according to the DA.
The samples were collected from hogs in three barangays in the Rizal province where around 100 pigs died last month.
The DA earlier imposed a ban on pork imports from countries with recorded cases of ASF like China.
“How did this enter the country? There are many ways. It may have been brought in inadvertently when a carrier of the disease coming from a non-affected area entered the country, but this is very remote,” Cabatbat said.
“That is why we suspect that pork smuggling is the reason,” he added.
Cabatbat stressed his party-list group believes “we can do that to prevent the entry of the disease through legal or illegal means.”
Meanwhile, processed and semi-processed pork meat brands found in supermarkets and groceries were certified by the Food and Drug Administration, hence, safe to consume.
Canned meat and hotdogs are cooked, these products are safe to consume and must not be banned. Most of the local canned meat were produced by the members of the Processed Meat Association of the Philippines Inc.
“We also advise the consumers who shop in wet markets to ask vendors to present their NMIS certificates, issued everyday by NMIS. These certificates are proof that these pork products have been tested and found free of ASF,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.
According to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, there was no national outbreak of ASF.
“The virus is contained in select areas in Rizal and Bulacan and the DA is currently containing the situation. Hence, we call on the local government units to ease on the total ban of pork products in their areas and allow certified pork products except those from identified areas in Rizal and Bulacan,” he said.
ASF is a virus that is a contagious disease that affects pigs/hogs population only but is not communicable to humans.
“But we advise the public to thoroughly cook their pork and other meat products to ensure that all bacteria and viruses are eliminated. The DTI-Consumer Protection Group is working closely with the DA to monitor the situation to ensure that consumers always have safe and affordable food options,” Lopez said.
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