AN AGRICULTURE expert said local government units (LGUs) are misguided in imposing bans on the entry processed pork products due to African Swine Fever (ASF) fears, and added that the restrictions may ultimately force consumers to pay higher prices.

“LGU fears are unfounded. Legitimate meat processors… observe good manufacturing practices. In the end, consumers will suffer,” Rolando T. Dy, executive director of the Center for Food and Agribusiness at the University of Asia and the Pacific, said in a text message.

He said prices are likely to rise if supply is restricted.

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI) has estimated that the various bans imposed by 56 of 81 provinces on processed meat from Luzon will cost the industry P55 billion in sales this year, with P22 to P23 billion coming in the fourth quarter when processed meat products experience peak demand.

Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año has instructed LGUs to exclude processed pork products with proper certifications from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from the bans, an order resisted by the agriculture industry, which wants to ensure that ASF does not spread beyond Luzon.

The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), which includes members from the hog industry, said there is still no way to determine if these products are free from ASF.

“There is yet any testing done that will ascertain if these processed pork products are free from ASF,” SINAG Chairman Rosendo O. So said in an e-mail addressed to Mr. Año on Tuesday, a copy of which was given to reporters.

PAMPI noted that pork-based products are cooked at between 70 and 116 degrees Celsius for 40 to 60 minutes. The ASF virus dies at 70 degrees Celsius when exposed for 20 minutes.

Mr. So said other risks stem from movement between infected territories to uninfected ones, adding that ASF can be transmitted by people who visit farms or by vehicles if sanitary procedures are not observed.

“The processed meat industry is miniscule compared to the P500-billion hog industry and allied businesses,” he said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang