DAGUPAN CITY—Hogs and poultry raisers on Saturday welcomed the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) move to put restrictions on imported meat products for American troops’ use in the Philippines.
Rosendo So, president of the Northern Luzon Hog Raisers Cooperative and director of the Swine Development Council, said no importer of meat products must be exempted from securing the required documents to bring in imports.
These documents include the sanitary and phyto sanitary (SPS) clearance from the Bureau of Animal Industry and the veterinary quarantine and meat inspection and laboratory certificates.
In December, the DA stopped the release of assorted meat products meant for United States soldiers deployed to the Philippines because the American importers did not undergo complete quarantine procedures.
Six container vans of assorted goods, including frozen meat products, remained on hold in a cold storage in Laguna after being stopped by DA inspectors last year because of the absence of an SPS clearance.
“The problem is that part of the food shipments from the US had already been released without quarantine inspection. What if these are contaminated?” So said.
The National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) admitted some 300 kilograms of meat products in the container vans were released last week. The rest of the shipment will be released after the matter is settled at a meeting, it said.
Officials from the US Defense Logistics Agency and the US Department of Agriculture are expected to meet on Jan. 16 with officials from the Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Plant Industry, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the NMIS.
Lesly Gelin, forward logistics specialist and contracting officer representative, said in a letter to the NMIS that the meat products from the US had already been inspected and approved by the US Department of Agriculture.
“The products are shipped in care of the US Embassy in Manila and are therefore exempted from additional inspection… These products will not be distributed to the local population,” Gelin said.
But So said that releasing the meat products without inspection will unnecessary put the country’s biosecurity at risk. “This might affect our local meat products for export,” he said.
On Saturday, US Embassy public affairs officer Luke Meinzen was quoted in an e-mail response as saying that the Jan. 16 meeting would try to “establish acceptable import protocols and procedure for all future military shipments of food products to resupply US military units in the Philippines and US naval ships in the region.” Gabriel Cardinoza and Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon