TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Nov. 1 (PIA) -- Cooking and processing pork products even at high temperatures is not an assurance that it can not be a carrier of African Swine Fever (ASF), according to Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in its advisories against the dreaded hog disease.
The same point becomes Bohol ASF Executive Committee stand against the arguments posited by Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) on the total ban on processed pork products from Luzon which Bohol has since implemented months back.
It may be recalled that in August, the province of Bohol, through Gov. Arthur Yap, issued Executive Order 7 mandating a temporary ban for a period of 100 days the entry of pork and pork-related products whether raw, processed, or cooked, including frozen boar semen and regulating the entry of live hogs through all ports in Bohol.
Subsequent Executive Order No. 8 also adopts the ASF Provincial Preparedness and Contingency Plan and creates an Executive Committee and Provincial Task Force for its implementation and providing for their functions and other related purposes.
In September, the Department of Agriculture (DA) confirmed the presence of ASF, it being the cause of death of hogs in Bulacan and Rizal, and consequently the declaration of an ASF outbreak in Luzon.
By Sept. 17, the governor issued an addendum to the previous ASF executive orders reiterating the ban on the entry of frozen pork meat and pork-related products, processed pork meat and pork-related products, whether cooked or uncooked, canned pork products, and feeds from Luzon to Bohol.
The addendum also specifically identified pork and pork products manufactured in Luzon or its source of raw materials comes from Luzon.
On this, PAMPI has protested on the ban on processed pork meat products especially coming from Luzon.
PAMPI argues that most processed meat products - pork or beef or poultry products - are fully cooked or smoked at temperatures ranging from a minimum of 70 degrees Celsius to a maximum of 121 degrees Celsius for 40 to 70 minutes.
PAMPI's contention is based on the assumption that with the said temperatures, all harmful bacteria and viruses, including ASF are either killed or destroyed.
By such, any product which are cooked, smoked or treated at high temperatures can not be potential carriers of the ASF virus, PAMPI contends.
However, using FDA advisory in administrative order 2018-133 dated Sept. 24, 2018, 2019-127 dated May 21, 2019 and 2019-229 dated July 30, 2019 lay out the details on the temporary ban on the importation, distribution and sale of all processed pork meat products from countries affected by the ASF.
FDA has admitted that the said products can still be possible carriers of the ASF virus.
"If the FDA imposes a temporary ban for such pork meat products from the ASF-affected countries to the Philippines, then it would be on the contrary if it allows Luzon pork products to freely flow to Bohol," explained Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz of the ASF Executive Committee.
Lapiz said that on June 15, FDA reportedly seized canned meat products from AFS-hit countries.
The same reports said the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) randomly took samples from all items seized in ports and airports.
Of 364 samples, 34 proved positive for ASF from.
On June 14, 2019, BAI has reportedly confirmed that canned goods brought in by a returning Filipino from Hongkong contained ASF virus.
BAI reportedly used the same protocols adopted by the Food and Agriculture Council in 2012 for its tests in 10 Asian countries to test the canned food and luncheon meat from Hongkong tested positive for the ASF, reports then Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol.
This, according to Lapiz, proves that ASF can survive in processed pork meat products. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)