By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – The Davao Region has continued to import frozen pork products despite reports of an African swine fever (ASF) outbreak in commercial and backyard farms in two provinces and in two barangays in this city, an official of Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) said on Friday.
Dr. Maria Teresa R. Bacayo, regional veterinary quarantine officer at the Veterinary Quarantine Services of the DA-BAI in Davao, said at the sidelines of the Kapihan sa Philippine Information Agency that pork imports came from countries free from the ASF.
Data from DA-BAI showed that frozen pork imports in the region totaled 287,774,859 kilograms as of October 2019.
Of the total, the record revealed that the biggest supply of imported frozen pork to Davao came from Spain, which accounted for 110,779,321 kgs. Canada came second highest with 35,240,100 kgs., followed by France (34,752,913 kgs), Germany (28,412,786 kgs), US (27,635, 549 kgs.), Netherlands (19,462,944 kgs.), UK (8,901,134), Denmark (5,852,000), Brazil (5,228,949), Ireland (4,696,376), Australia (4,589,561), Italy (1,421,499), and Austria (801,726).
She said that inspectors ensure that exporters to Davao have permits before they are allowed entry.
She said quarantine officers inspect even the processing facilities of exporters in their countries of origin to make sure meat products are safe for consumption.
“We do risk analysis there and check their animal health system to see if they follow certain protocols. That’s sort of an accreditation. If that process has been completed, then they can ship to our country,” she said.
She said, however, they expect the volume of imported frozen pork products to drop next month, following the ASF outbreak in Davao.
Dr. Cerelyn Pinili, the Officer-in-Charge of the Davao City Veterinarian’s Office assured the consumers that the pork products sold at the local markets here are “safe for consumption” amid the panic caused by African Swine Fever (ASF) in two barangays in Calinan, this city.
She said that the hogs that have been transported and slaughtered in the accredited abattoirs are strictly inspected, requiring hog owners to show a “shipping permit and health certificate” declaring their pigs are not infected with the dreaded ASF.
Before the hogs enter the abattoirs, Pinili said the local government requires “antemortem” and “post-mortem” examinations to determine if the pigs and the meats are contaminated with the disease.
Pinili also advised the local consumers to check from the sellers’ meat inspection certificates issued by her office that are usually displayed in meat stalls in public markets or meat section of the groceries in malls.
She said the local governments continue to closely monitor the ASF outbreak that resulted in 1,562 hogs in Barangay Lamanan and 477 in Barangay Dominga, Calinan Districts culled as of Tuesday.
She urged hog producers to practice biosecurity measures, including restricting the entry of pigs into their farms, disinfecting their areas, and avoiding feeding their pigs with swill, possibly contaminated with ASF.
She said hog raisers must immediately report to authorities if they see pigs showing signs and symptoms of the infection so that they can conduct blood sampling to determine if they test positive for ASF.
“If you notice in your neighborhood that hogs are becoming weak, call our office so we can get blood samples from the pigs. We can immediately take action, unlike if you hide situations like this. This needs participation from the farmers, consumers, let’s help each other),” she said.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) requires all pigs within the one-kilometer radius of areas that reported an outbreak to be culled in compliance with the “1-7-10” protocol to manage, contain, and control the spread of the ASF.
The protocol requires that all pigs within the one-kilometer radius of infected farms will be culled, limit animal movement within seven-kilometer radius, and require swine farms within a 10-kilometer to submit a mandatory report on the disease.