FDA orders recall of pork goods from countries with African swine fever

MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the recall of pork products imported from countries hit by African swine fever (ASF), following a request from the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The FDA, in an order on Monday, May 27, directed "all importers, distributors, retail outlets, and other dealers" of processed pork products from ASF-hit countries to immediately implement the recall.

Violators would be prosecuted for offenses under Republic Act (RA) No. 9711 or the FDA Act and RA No. 10611 or the Food Safety Act.

In a separate advisory also on Monday, the FDA expanded the list of countries covered by the temporary ban on the importation, distribution, and sale of all processed pork products from countries with ASF. There are now 16 countries on the list:

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said canned pork from ASF-hit countries that were manufactured beginning August 2018 should not have entered the Philippines in the first place. This also covers pet food which contain pork.

The DA, however, already lifted the ban on the importation of domestic and wild pigs as well as pork products from Japan. The decision came after the Bureau of Animal Industry evaluated that the risk of contamination from Japan is "negligible."

The Philippines remains unaffected by ASF. But hog raisers, who called for more restricted importation, still fear that the disease may enter the country. These stakeholders asked the DA to expand the temporary suspension to also cover high-risk countries.

National Federation of Hog Farmers chairman Chester Warren Tan said there would be no shortage since the country currently has 5 months' worth of buffer stock.

But there is still no word if pork importers will also listen to the DA's request to limit their operations.

Piñol noted in a chance interview on Tuesday, May 28, that there may be a slight increase in prices if tighter importation is implemented.

"We're looking at the possible effect on prices, but our question is what should we prioritize: the P1 to P2 increase in the price of pork or the destruction of an industry worth P200 billion?" Piñol said in a mix of Filipino and English. – Rappler.com