Five cans of luncheon meat seized from a returning overseas Filipino worker (OFW) at Clark International Airport tested positive for the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus, the Philippines agriculture secretary announced today on his Facebook account.
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol posted a report filed by Dr. Rachel Azul of the Bureau of Animal Industry’s virology section that said the canned goods were seized from the OFW, who was based in Hong Kong, on March 25. Azul said the virus was detected during a laboratory test.
“So far, no African swine fever infections have been reported in pigs in the country, Azul said. “The detection of the virus in [the] seized products does not change Philippine’s African Swine Fever-free status. The seizure is a warning for the industry and an acknowledgment of the catastrophic threat on our doorsteps.”
In a follow-up post, Piñol shared photos of the five cans of Sky Dragon luncheon meat that were confiscated from the OFW that tested positive for ASF. He wrote in Filipino: “If this was allowed into [the Philippines] and its leftovers were fed to pigs, the disease could have spread to other pigs and this would have caused the destruction of our hog industry.”
“To those who say that we are over-reacting and are complaining about the strict quarantine protocols, this is proof that we are facing a threat,” he said.
“Let’s not act like know-it-alls and don’t be stubborn. Follow the quarantine officers at the airport. Bringing canned goods and processed pork products into the country is prohibited. You will be caught and made to pay a fine.”
GMA News reported that the OFW who brought the canned goods into the country sought the help of the media to get them back from customs officers.
According to the World Organization for Animal Health, ASF is a severe viral disease that affects both domestic and wild pigs and could cause their deaths. It could be transmitted when a pig comes into contact with another that has been afflicted with ASF or when it eats something that tested positive with the virus.
Sky Dragon luncheon meat is produced in China. To prevent ASF from spreading in the country, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also banned the popular luncheon meat Maling from the Philippines because it’s also produced in China where ASF is present.
The FDA has also stopped the importation, distribution, and sale of all processed pork meat products from Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zambia, South Africa, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Mongolia, Moldova, and Belgium, reported The Philippine Daily Inquirer.