SEIZE AND DESTROY: Meat products from ASF-infected countries confiscated, disposed

QUARANTINE personnel dispose the canned goods seized at the Iloilo international airport in Cabatuan, Iloilo. The items came from countries with cases of African Swine Flu (ASF) virus infection such as Hong Kong and Singapore. (Photo courtesy of Regional Veterinary Quarantice Office-6)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

AUTHORITIES recently disposed raw and processed meat products from countries with cases of African Swine Flu (ASF) virus infection.

The items were seized by authorities at the Iloilo and Kalibo International airports in Panay, based on a report from the Regional Veterinary Quarantine Office (RVQO), an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture.

The RVQO reported that 244 pieces of raw, processed, and canned meat products were confiscated at the Iloilo International Airport and were immediately buried in a dumpsite in Cabatuan, Iloilo on June 4, 2019.

“We were able to confiscate it during the arrival of the international flights and we disposed it in a dumping area in Cabatuan in coordination with the local government unit (LGU), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Bureau of Customs (BOC). The bulk of the meat products were really canned goods alongside raw meat,” Dr. John Rhoel Hilario, Regional Veterinary Quarantine Officer, said in a phone interview on Friday.

According to Hilario, the products came from countries that are affected of the ASF virus, particularly Hong Kong and Singapore, and were brought here by locals and foreigners as “pasalubong” or take home gifts.

“Hong Kong is one of the areas that are experiencing the outbreak. The products usually come from pasalubongs of foreigners and locals. As you know, Asians really have the culture of bringing in pasalubongs,” he said.

On Thursday, 118.45 kilograms of meat products were also confiscated from several passengers at Kalibo International Airport.

The Kalibo International Airport Station, together with the Office of Aklan Provincial Veterinarian, LGU of Kalibo, and BOC, then disposed the meat products.

Hilario said they are strictly monitoring both the incoming and outgoing meat products that may be infected of the ASF virus because of the risk that it can pose to the local animal industry.

“Strict ang aton monitoring. In fact, we are also doing sea ports monitoring. More than the outgoing, we are very particular with the incoming because this is really a risk sa aton animal industry locally. We are very strict with the incoming products to ensure safety,” he said.

Hilario added that products coming from countries infected with ASF although processed, have still the risk of creating potential outbreak.

“Regardless of the size of meat or of the processed meat, as long as it is infected, it still has the capacity to affect an area,” he said.

Ang problema biskan processed, there are still risks. It doesn’t matter kung gaano kalaki o gaano kaliit yung dala nating karne, as long as its infected, it contains virus it has the risk to affect the area and eventually create an outbreak,” Hilario stressed.