THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has instructed quarantine officers to inspect non-accredited cold storage warehouses and container vans to prevent the entry of African Swine Fever (ASF)-infected pork products.

“All Veterinary Quarantine Officer and Inspectors are hereby authorized to inspect all NMIS (National Meat Inspection Service) non-accredited private cold storage warehouses and container vans or any items that are possible carriers of the African Swine Fever virus at the ports of entry (1st border) and cold storage warehouses (2nd border),” the DA said in Memorandum Order No. 3, series of 2020.

The measure supports the National Zoning Plan authorized by Administrative Order No. 12, series of 2019, which sets guidelines for the movement of pork and pork products across the country, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Order No. 2019-183, which also authorizes designated officers from the NMIS and the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to inspect all imported pork and pork products.

This order is in effect until Dec. 4, 2020, unless the FDA revokes the order earlier.

In October, branded and unbranded pork products were confiscated at Calapan Port in Oriental Mindoro, which tested positive for ASF. It was later confirmed that branded processed pork products were made by Pampanga-based Mekeni Food Corp.

Two cargo containers from China were also apprehended in the Port of Manila in the same month. These were declared to be containing tomato paste and vermicelli, but were later discovered to be containing meat products like dimsum, dumplings, and minced vegetables with meat.

The government has banned the entry of pork and pork products from countries suffering from ASF outbreaks, like China, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Hungary, Laos, Moldova, Poland, South Africa, and Indonesia.

The BAI estimates the number of culled pigs at 147,334 as of Dec. 15, of which 18% or 26,077 head were confirmed to be infected by the virus. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang