Smuggled pork from China caused African Swine Flu, Agriculture Department says

<I>Pigs testing positive for ASF. Photo: ABS-CBN</I>
Pigs testing positive for ASF. Photo: ABS-CBN

The agriculture secretary yesterday blamed the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak in the Philippines on the arrival of infected pork smuggled from China, citing another bust of illegal and contaminated products.

Read: It’s here: African swine fever hits Philippines, Agriculture Department says

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that two seized containers carrying illegally smuggled pork products from China tested positive for ASF. The shipments, which arrived two weeks ago in the Port of Manila, were falsely declared as tomato paste and vermicelli, and were consigned to Jeniti International Trading, a company based in Binondo, Manila.

“That concludes really that this has been introduced by bringing it here, smuggling it here, introducing it here,” Dar said in a press conference yesterday, saying that contaminated pork scraps were likely dumped in Rizal only to be collected and repurposed as pig feed.

In its statement, the department also pointed out that chorizo and hotdogs made by Pampanga-based meat manufacturer Mekeni Food Corporation, which were pulled from stores last week, had officially tested positive for ASF.

Read: Swine fever is an outbreak, not epidemic, agriculture official insists

Earlier, Mekeni had apologized to consumers and said that they were confirming with the Bureau of Animal Industry if their products have been infected.

The Agriculture Department statement commended Mekeni for the preemptive recall, and said the company will continue to work with the government to ensure its products were safe for human consumption.

The department said that while ASF does not affect humans, the Food Safety Act of 2013 mandates that meat from disease-carrying animals should not be consumed by people.

Read: Eat pork! Please eat all the totally safe pork, agri chief and Manila mayor urge

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department also said that samples collected on Oct. 24 from frozen meat imported from Canada, the US, and France tested negative for ASF.

The department reiterated that pork is still safe to eat, despite the spread of ASF in the country. It also reminded Filipinos to always look for the seal and certificate issued by the government before buying any pork products to avoid purchasing contaminated meats.

As of October, some 20,000 pigs had been culled to stop the spread of ASF.

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