By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to penalize one of the oldest supermarket chains in the country for retailing mechanically deboned meat (MDM), which can only be sold to accredited processors in the manufacture of meat products such as sausages and luncheon meat.
A source said in an interview that DA may soon ask South Supermarket to explain why they have been selling MDM.
A DA Circular earlier issued by former Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala showed that for hygienic handling practices, MDM or Mechanically Separated Meat (MSM) shall be used only by accredited meat processors in the manufacture of heat treated products.
In a letter that was also sent to DA, Philippine Association Of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI) wrote South Supermarket to immediately pull out MDM products from its shelves.
“It has been reported that MDM is being sold in retail packs (1 kilogram) at South Supermarket, and presumably in other supermarkets as well. Pack is labelled as mechanically deboned meat of chicken priced at P79+/kg,” PAMPI Executive Director Francisco Buencamino said.
Founded in 1968, South Supermarket is a local supermarket chain located in different locations in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. It has branches in Laguna, Bulacan, Pasig, Muntinlupa, Valenzuela, and Marikina.
Buencamino argued that there appears to be no record that South Supermarket is an importer of MDM. Thus, an accredited importer, whether processor or trader, could be the source of the MDM at South Supermarket.
“Please therefore pull out this product from your shelves immediately before the Department of Agriculture cites you for this violation. We are forwarding this request to the DA-National Meat Inspection Service, Bureau of Animal Industry, Office of the Secretary,” Buencamino said.
“Please address this matter immediately,” it added.
The statement of DA officials have been sought regarding this matter but they are yet to give their comments.
The local production of MDM is not yet significant. Thus, most of the country’s supply of this product is still being imported from countries like the United States.
Right now, there is an issue whether to keep tariff rates on MDM at 5 percent or raise it back to 40 percent.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) already expressed its intention to keep the tariff at 5 percent since adjusting the rates could result to increase in prices.