By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo is calling on the Department of Agriculture (DA) to reveal brands of processed meat products that tested positive for the deadly African Swine Fever (ASF) virus.
The vice chairperson of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development made the call after DA declared that it was “premature” to name brands of the supposedly contaminated processed meat products because they were still validating the reported contamination in coordination with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Castelo said the DA should be “transparent” and should not keep the public guessing, since it would only fire up unnecessary ASF scare on such products which might affect supply and prices.
“We don’t want this to happen especially when millions of our countrymen are about to celebrate the Christmas season,” she said in a statement.
In an earlier television interview, Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said that before they name the brands, samples have to undergo testing to determine the presence of the ASF virus. He explained that the identification whether or not the ASF genome was present lies on the DA’s shoulders, and it will forward the results to the FDA for its action.
Castelo also asked the DA to also identify the processed meat products that are not contaminated with ASF, citing that many Filipinos, particularly in Metro Manila, purchase canned goods and processed meat for Christmas.
She noted several local government units (LGUs) already imposed a ban on contaminated meat products to protect their hog industries despite the fact that ASF does not pose any threat to human health.
“So the DA should be transparent as public welfare and meat businesses are of paramount concern” Castelo said. “Doing so would also protect the industry not affected by ASF,” she added.
According to reports, Mekeni Food Corp. decided to initiate a voluntary recall of all of its pork-based products effective October 26, Saturday.
The Pampanga-based firm said it submitted samples of its products to the DA and an independent testing facility for testing, even as it maintained that its products were “safe for consumption.”