By Chito Chavez
A Quezon City councilor pleaded to the public to heed the government’s call to temporarily shun the purchase and consumption of meat products from countries suspected to have cases of the African Swine Flu to avert any unfavorable health issues.
Councilor Victor Ferrer Jr. has strongly pushed for this call until such time that these countries that export meat products to the Philippines are free from the dreaded disease.
To recall, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as expanded to 16 its list of countries temporarily banned from exporting pork products to the Philippines.
These countries include now bans the importation of pork from Vietnam, Zambia, South Africa, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Mongolia, Moldova, Belgium, China, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine.
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) noted African swine fever is “a severe viral disease affecting domestic and wild pigs.’’
While humans cannot get the disease, the health group explained “it can have serious economic effects if it spreads among livestock.’’
Local authorities assured that at present the Philippines is free of African swine flu.
Meanwhile, as the rainy season draws near, outgoing Councilor Allan Reyes and incoming third district Rep. Allan Benedict Reyes asked local officials and other concerned government agencies to strictly monitor the city’s markets especially those at the Balintawak area as hogs, cattle and chicken are susceptible to diseases in cold weather.
He noted the great likelihood of unsafe meat products flooding the local markets anew with the inclement weather affecting the conditions of the animals.
“The thing is we should be ready. Some parents in order to provide clean food to their children going to school have prepared their lunches themselves. It will make no sense if the prepared food is made out of double dead meat. It defeats the purpose,’’ Reyes noted.
To prevent the spread of diseases, Reyes asked the local government to periodically inspect the wet markets in the city’s 142 barangays especially marketplaces notorious for selling double dead meat commonly known as “botcha.”
He also asked the city veterinary office to have policemen escort them during their inspection to avert a repetition of an incident several years ago where vendors, goons and suspicious looking characters of Commonwealth Market threatened them with harm during one of their operations against unsafe meat and fish products.
“It is very scary on the part of city hall personnel to be intimidated and subjected to physical mischief while carrying out a lawful order. Complaints have reached my office regarding the matter,’’ Reyes noted.
Reyes warned the public against buying pale looking passed off as fresh meat or very cheap meat products saying that these pose health risks as incidence of cholera and similar diseases may be acquired through consumption of unsafe pork, beef or chicken.
Also known as “bocha’’ in local parlance, Balintawak Market has long known to be the dumping ground of spoiled meat primarily due to its accessibility to the Central and Northern Luzon provinces where poultry, cattle and hog raising is an industry.