The government really wants the public to believe pork products are safe to eat despite slaughtering thousands of pigs to contain the African Swine Flu outbreak (not epidemic!).
Making a spectacle of the point, Agriculture Secretary William Dar and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno yesterday munched on pork products after inviting members of the media to watch them take a pork challenge.
Only one-third of the 20,000 killed pigs were afflicted with the disease, Dar told reporters, adding that the “majority of the pigs were from Bulacan and the areas were already quarantined including nearby areas of Pampanga.”
Moreno said he will be relentless in pursuing illegal importers and resellers of pork products to stop the spread of the disease, while promising to establish hygienic, state-of-the-art slaughterhouses. He also encouraged the public to “buy local” pork products and as their t-shirts implied, “eat Pinoy pork.”
Despite Dar’s assurances the virus has been contained, it has already spread to Pangasinan province, where 15 of 30 blood samples from pigs in Mapandan town tested positive, according to Manila Times. Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino III said they would implement agriculture department’s so-called 1-7-10 protocol, that mandates the culling of all hogs within a kilometer of an infection, among other strict measures meant to contain the disease, Manila Bulletin reported. He also urged officials to be vigilant in pursuing illegal hog traders,.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo in a statement yesterday said the government is confident the agriculture department can contain the virus, adding that Dar is “competent enough to handle the situation.”
Pork is big business in the Philippines, where there were 12.7 million pigs as of July, about two-thirds of which are kept on backyard farms, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The swine flu is a severe viral disease that can be fatal for both domestic and wild pigs, according to the World Organization for Animal Health. It can be transmitted by contact with an affected animal or consumption of something infected with the virus.
To control its spread, the country’s Food and Drug Administration has banned all processed pork meat products from countries affected by the flu, such as Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zambia, and more. It cannot be transmitted to humans.
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