Processed pork excluded from DILG ban
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has decided to heed the call of pork producers and manufacturers to rescind the ban on the shipment of processed pork, but was met with criticism by an industry group.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año confirmed in a text message to the Inquirer that he signed a memorandum circular (MC) on Tuesday excluding processed pork from the ban issued by local and provincial governments amid fears of the African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks.
Movement of live hogs, however, remains prohibited.
“Processed pork meats are excluded from the ban as long as they meet the qualifications enumerated in the MC, like FDA (Food and Drug Administration) certification,” he said. “I signed it [MC] this morning.”
The order came after a strong lobby from the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) against the order of several local government units (LGUs) to ban processed meat products from entering their respective areas, saying that not only would the industry incur P30 billion to P40 billion worth of losses but there could also be an impending shortfall in the regions of Visayas and Mindanao as well as an oversupply of pork in Luzon.
While Pampi welcomed the decision, industry group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) said removing processed pork products from the ban might jeopardize the entire livestock industry together with other allied businesses, which is currently valued at P500 billion.
Not a good precedence
In a letter to Año on Tuesday, Sinag chair Rosendo So said “there have been several incidences that confirmed the contamination of processed pork,” which may not be a good precedence if the government wants to contain the deadly hog disease.
The Bureau of Animal Industry had confirmed reports of canned goods contaminated with the ASF virus entering the country through the ports of Subic in Zambales and Cebu earlier this year.
These products were incinerated immediately, and led to the ban of pork and other pork products from the country of origin.
“The processed meat industry is minuscule as compared to the P500-billion hog industry and allied businesses. Pampi’s claim of losses is not equal to the declared value of their industry, as per the Board of Investment record” Sinag said.
“The hemorrhage to the industry of the ASF is real, catastrophic and in billions of pesos. And yet, we support the decision of Visayas and Mindanao LGUs to ban the entry of our products to their region to ensure that Visayas and Mindanao remain ASF-free,” it added.
Presently, 56 out of 81 provinces in the country have imposed either a total or conditional ban on the shipment of pork and pork products from ASF-infested areas.
The orders stand despite the Animal Health Organization saying that the ASF virus can be killed when cooked at a minimum of 70°C for half an hour.
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