By Chino Leyco
The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) assured the public on Sunday that processed meats and their other products are free of the African swine fever (ASF) virus.
In a statement, Felix O. Tiukinhoy Jr., PAMPI president, said the industry can “assure and guarantee” consumers that processors and manufacturers do not source their raw pork materials from countries infected by the ASF virus.
For local supply, Tiukinhoy also assured that they purchase only pork cuts that have been certified by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) to be free from any disease.
“We strictly adhere to internationally accepted and recognized standards of food safety and manufacturing practices,” said Tiukinhoy, who leads a group of processed meat products manufacturers.
According to Tiukinhoy, the sector’s cooked and smoked processed meat products were subjected to cooking temperatures ranging from 70 to 116 degrees Celsius for 40 to 60 minutes.
For this reason, he explained, harmful bacteria and viruses, including ASF if any, at these high temperatures, were “killed and destroyed.”
“Hence, our processed meat products cannot be carriers of the ASF virus,” Tiukinhoy said.
ASF is a virus that is contagious to pigs but is not communicable to humans.
Tiukinhoy expressed their full and unequivocal support to joint efforts of the national government and private sector to contain and eradicate ASF in the country.
Tiukinhoy denounced some local government units’ (LGUs) decision to ban all pork meat products coming from other localities, which he said has “absolutely no basis in fact and science.”
“Unfortunately, during the past two weeks, the movement, distribution, and sale of processed meat products were banned by some LGUs on the mistaken belief and unfounded fear that they will cause harm to their hog raisers,” Tiukinhoy said.
Tiukinhoy asked the LGUs to take a second look and consider immediately lifting the “unnecessary and unwarranted” ban.
Earlier, several LGUs imposed a total ban on the movement, distribution, and sale of processed meats or pork-based products in their respective jurisdictions amid the threat of ASF.
“We also appeal to the national government to promptly issue unified and coordinated guidelines for adoption by all LGUs on the movement, distribution, and sale of pork products, both raw and processed, to avoid disruption of trade and damage to the economy,” Tiukinhoy said.
“Finally, we extend our appreciation and thanks to President Duterte and members of his Cabinet for recognizing the P300-billion meat processing industry as a partner and driver of economic growth during his term,” the official said.