LGUs urged to stay vigilant vs. processed meat entry

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is calling on local government units (LGUs) in Region 6 or the Western Visayas region to remain vigilant on the entry of processed meat products that could be possible carriers of the African swine fever (ASF) virus.

DA-6 Regional Executive Director, Engr. Jose Albert Barrogo in an interview said that while there are ASF cases in the region, there is still a need to protect the provinces of Antique and Negros Occidental which remain free from the animal disease.

“Even if we have ASF we still have to be vigilant, especially against the processed foods that enter our region, which is very hard to control. We are fervently requesting the participation of LGUs to be on top in implementing our biosecurity protocols,” he said.

Barrogo said processed foods that are shipped to the region should have documents to prove that they came from ASF-free areas.

While big companies are compliant with protocols, the close watch has to be directed to home-based and unlabeled processed foods.

In an advisory he released on Monday, he said that they have received reports about the “tremendous increase in the volume of incoming processed meat products from nearby regions and provinces.”

“ASF virus can thrive in through processed and frozen meat for a very long time and can still cause infection when taken by any animals in the swine species,” the advisory said.

Meanwhile, he confirmed that a small barangay in the municipality of Tangalan in Aklan province has submitted a specimen to the Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RADDL) for ASF testing and is awaiting the result.

Aklan’s first case of the ASF was recorded in a mountainous barangay of the municipality of Balete.

“What is good with Aklan and in Roxas, just like Iloilo, they kept on improving in their management of the ASF,” he said.

He added that Aklan has learned a lot from Iloilo on how to prevent the massive spread of the disease.

The regional executive director also met with officials of the provincial government of Negros Occidental where they talked about the reported deaths of several hogs in the area.

He said the department has long been asking the province to submit its specimen samples to the RADDL for verification.

“I sent a letter to the governor to send us specimens for a confirmatory test,” he added. (PNA)