By Leslie Ann Aquino
Parishes and social action arms, which conduct feeding programs, were urged to take the necessary “precautionary measures” by a Catholic prelate.
Bishop Oscar Florencio issued the reminder after it was revealed by the Department of Agriculture that the African Swine Fever caused the death of hundreds of pigs in Bulacan and Rizal
The prelate, a member of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Health Care, said precautionary measures are “prudent measures” to take at this time.
However, Florencio of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines was not sure when asked if parishes and social action arms should stop serving pork dishes due to the said development.
“I am not sure now if to stop serving for feeding programs would be one of them because there might be sources of pork which are not contaminated. This means we have to make some verifications,” he said.
But even before the ASF scare, Caritas Manila, the social action arm of the Archdiocese of Manila already stopped serving pork in its feeding programs
Father Anton Pascual, Caritas Manila executive director, said it was to promote plant-based diet which is more healthy.
“We don’t serve pork. Protein can come from fish, tofu, nuts. We promote the heathiest food is plant based,” he said.
“Since two years ago. The ailments of the urban poor are not anymore traditional poor problem like tuberculosis, ulcer but now chronic lifestyle diseases like Heart, diabetes, stroke. We have to promote urban gardening, vertical farming and so on,” added Pascual.
The Department of Health (DOH) had said that African Swine Flu (ASF) did not pose any risk to human health after the Department of Agriculture confirmed that 14 out of 20 pig samples tested positive for ASF.
“We want to allay the fears of the public by saying that, as long as pork is bought from reliable sources and it is cooked thoroughly, pork is safe to eat,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III emphasized.
According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, ASF is a severe and highly contagious viral disease among domestic and wild pigs.
It is commonly introduced into a herd after the feeding on uncooked or undercooked contaminated pork products which are then ingested by the pig. The virus is then spread between pigs by direct contact with an infected pig, or ingestion of contaminated material (such as food waste, feed, or garbage). It can also be transmitted by contaminated fomites or ticks or blood-sucking insects if present.