THE meat processing industry is proposing measures to help streamline the importation process for its raw materials, including the removal of certain permits.
“The industry requested NMIS [National Meat Inspection Service] to assess whether the COMI [Certificate of Meat Inspection] should continue to be mandatory considering that the manufacturers have their own Supplier Accreditation Program to check whether the meat being delivered to them is safe and handled properly,” the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said in a statement following a dialogue with stakeholders last month.
The forum was attended by private sector representatives primarily from the Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc.(PAMPI) and Pampanga Association of Meat Processors (PAMPRO).
“They proposed that COMI be secured only if their buyers require it,” the DTI added.
A COMI is needed to withdraw imported meat from NMIS-accredited cold storage warehouses.
The industry has complained to the NMIS and the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) about the “excessive time” needed to accomplish the required forms, which may compromise product quality and delivery times promised to buyers.
Should the requirement be retained, however, PAMPI and PAMPRO recommended that a pro-forma COMI be prepared in advance by the applicant, to be stamped “inspected” by the NMIS.
“They added that the government should focus more on strengthening post-delivery audit and conduct regular plant monitoring,” DTI said.
NMIS presented its proposed electronic filing system for COMI while the BAI demonstrated an electronic Shipping Permit (e-Shipping Permit) portal which it hopes will be fully operational in January.
The BAI’s e-Shipping Permit enables real-time notification of a shipment’s location and arrival and offers traceability for regulators.
Other permit requirements include the license to operate (LTO) and certificate of product registration (CPR) which are respectively required for the operation of meat manufacturing establishments and sale of processed meat.
Industry representatives said the processing time for obtaining LTOs and CPRs is “excessive”, as well, with the LTO taking at least 91 days and the CPR over 114 days.
There are more than 100 meat processing establishments in the Philippines, currently employing around 22,000. — Janina C. Lim