MEAT importers said smuggled pork is the likely source of the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak because such meat products skipped the inspection process that legal imports are subjected to.
“The source of ASF infection can only come from smuggled, illegal, undocumented entry of foreign [pork],” Jesus C. Cham, president of the Meat Importers Traders Association, told a House committee hearing on the ASF outbreak.
He noted that legally imported pork typically undergoes inspection at the source.
“I know that legal, documented imported meat cannot be the source of ASF infection because the meat of all these animals, each and every animal, had been inspected by a government inspector in an exporting country, both ante-mortem and post-mortem, that means they were inspected when it was still alive and after slaughter,” Mr. Cham said.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) confirmed last month the first outbreak of ASF in the Philippines. Areas with confirmed outbreaks are Guiguinto, Bulacan; Rodriguez and Antipolo, Rizal; Quezon City; Pampanga; and Pangasinan.
Meanwhile, Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI) president Felix O. Tiukinhoy said that processed meats which are cooked or smoked are “perfectly safe for human consumption.”
“Processed meat products which are fully cooked and smoked, whether they be made of pork meat or chicken, are subjected to heat treatment of 17 to 121 degrees celsius,” Mr. Tiukinhoy said.
He added, “[At] this temperature, harmful materials and viruses including the ASF virus are killed and destroyed.”
The meat processing industry has said it is expecting at least a 5-10% reduction in the value of its annual production because of restrictions on processed meat product distribution in selected provinces. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras