THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it is looking into the farmgate prices of poultry, which are diverging from the rising prices for the commodity at the retail level.

In a statement, Agriculture Undersecretary Deogracias Victor B. Savellano said: “While poultry prices in the wet markets have been increasing, farmgate prices have actually been decreasing.”

Whole chicken in Metro Manila markets sold for between P130 and P200 per kilogram as of Nov. 9, according to the DA.

He said that poultry farmers have been complaining about the low price at which traders buy their produce.

The DA said, the decline in the farmgate price of poultry may have been caused by the “excessive dumping of frozen meat in wet markets.”

He said producers have reportedly been selling younger poultry of 27 or 28 days instead of the typical 30 days to meet demand during the year-end holidays.

The DA has warned against the sale of imported frozen meat being mislabeled as fresh meat in wet markets.

“The risk is in the absence of refrigeration facilities in wet markets and vendors’ lack of knowledge on handling frozen meat,” it said.

Mr. Savellano said the Department of Trade and Industry is helping it crack down on mislabeled meats in wet markets.

“There is no problem with selling imported meat, you just can’t label and selling it as fresh meat,” he added.

To ensure food safety, the DA urged consumers to look for the National Meat Inspection Service seal and the local government’s slaughterhouse documents.

DA Administrative Order No. 6 of 2012 prohibits the sale of frozen meat in wet markets.

“Frozen meat should only be confined to hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets that have refrigeration facilities and handling expertise,” it said. — Adrian H. Halili