Dar orders stricter biosecurity, quarantine measures vs. ASF

Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Friday ordered the stricter implementation of the 1-7-10 protocol, biosecurity and quarantine measures to contain and prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF).

In the latest bulletin on ASF, Dar has called on all local government unit (LGU) officials and swine industry stakeholders to “continuously sustain efforts to manage, contain and control ASF, and strictly enforce the 1-7-10 protocol and biosecurity and quarantine measures.”

This comes in the wake of the apprehension of a traveler carrying several packets of processed pork products that tested positive for ASF at a Mindoro port.

Under the 1-7-10 protocol, the government culls all pigs within the one-kilometer radius of the affected farm, while the movement of pork and pork products within seven kilometers is limited. It also conducts surveillance and monitoring within the 10-kilometer radius.

The DA earlier confirmed that samples taken from processed pork products, such as hotdog, longganisa, and tocino, coming from a Manila-based company tested positive for the ASF virus.

“We received reports that the team of Mindoro quarantine personnel, along with NMIS (National Meat Inspection Service) and BAI (Bureau of Animal Industry), were able to apprehend hand-carried few items of tocino, hotdog, and other meat products at the Calapan, Mindoro port, “ DA spokesman, Assistant Secretary Noel Reyes, told reporters.

“This shows that these pork products came from ASF-affected areas in Luzon that were sold and processed by medium-scale enterprises,” he said.

DA Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan, in a press briefing on Friday, clarified that the confiscated pork products were mostly “homemade”.

“It would be very unfair if we will mention a certain brand that might be contaminated due to ‘cross contamination’, meaning there is a possibility that the homemade pork products were the ‘carrier’ (of the ASF virus) and were mixed with branded ones in a container,” he explained.

As such, he said the DA Secretary ordered further laboratory testing on the confiscated meat products.

Dar lauded concerned LGUs, the BAI, and NMIS personnel for the apprehension which “shows that strict and effective measures are in place and operational to prevent the spread of ASF”.

He, however, warned that anybody found selling and trading illegally slaughtered diseased animals are punishable under the law.

“Again, we strongly appeal to small backyard hog raisers not to sell their ASF-infected pigs to traders, and for traders not to sell infected hogs, and pork and processed products so as not to spread the ASF virus to other areas,” Dar said.

He also urged the general public to continue to buy pork products from market vendors and meat shops with NMIS certificates.

Malacañang has directed all government agencies, bureaus, agencies and the like to control the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the country.

“The Office of the President, through the initiative of the Executive Secretary, is hereby directing all executive departments, bureaus, agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations, government financial institutions and other instrumentalities of the government to coordinate, as well as to adopt policies and institute measures to manage, contain and control the transmission of African Swine Fever in the country,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement late Thursday.

Panelo said all concerned and responsible government offices are also directed to provide assistance, alternative livelihood and skills training to those affected by ASF.

Processed meat firms take action

Meanwhile, Mekeni Food Corporation on Friday said it adheres to the highest food safety and quality standards for many years.

“We fully comply with government regulations to ensure that our processes and products are within the required standards,” said Prudencio Garcia of Mekeni Food Corporation in a statement.

“We (also) maintain that all our raw meats are strictly inspected by the NMIS and have all the required certifications from regulatory bodies,” he added.

Purefoods, for its part, also assured that all its products are ASF free and safe to eat.

“In light of recent news on certain processed pork products that tested positive for African Swine Fever, Purefoods-Hormel guarantees that its products are ASF free and safe to eat. Purefoods products are produced in company-controlled facilities and processing plants that have passed all stringent requirements of BAI, NMIS and FDA,” it said in a statement. (PNA)