Gov't confiscates ASF-infected hotdog, longganisa, tocino products

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 24) — The Department of Agriculture has confirmed that some samples of an undisclosed brand of processed meat products tested positive for African Swine Fever.

The items include breakfast staples hotdog, tocino, and longganisa, which were hand-carried by an individual on his way to Mindoro from Central Luzon, Agriculture Spokesperson Noel Reyes said.

"Confiscated na po yan at nailibing na po yung mga produktong iyon (Those products were all confiscated and buried)," Reyes told CNN Philippines. He did not elaborate as to when these happened.

Reyes said only the National Meat Inspection Service and the Bureau of Animal Industry can disclose the brand name. 

Malacañang has directed all government agencies to implement measures to manage, contain and control the transmission of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the country.

The Office of the President, through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, also directed government offices to provide assistance and alternative livelihood and skills training to those affected by ASF.

ASF only affects pigs, but humans can be virus carriers. The virus quickly spreads in an affected hog, which could lead to death after three to five days, threatening food supply.

The Department of Health said the virus has no impact on humans.

"We are still waiting for the report from DA but the public should be reassured that consumption of such products pose no threat to human health," Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said in a text message.

The group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) earlier gave the media a copy of a laboratory report signed by the BAI which shows that certain processed meat products have "ASF Viral DNA detected."

The agriculture group has threatened to sue the DA, Department of Health, and Bureau of Customs for failing to implement the country's quarantine policies. It said all pork and pork-based products imported in the country "have never been subjected to any ASF testing at the first port of entry," as mandated by law.

Reyes said the DA is now in talks with the group, recognizing that its concerns are valid. He said products from ASF-hit countires should really be denied entry, while the rest should be examined if these are "healthy, safe, and hygienic."

The current import ban on pork and pork products covers 16 countries hit by swine fever; namely Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa, Zambia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Romania, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Mongolia, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

In the Philippines, cases of African Swine Fever have been confirmed in some areas in Quezon City, Rizal, Bulacan, and Pangasinan.

LOOK: A timeline of African Swine Fever in the PH

Reyes assures that the government is working on containing the virus.

Since the outbreak of swine fever in July, more than 30,000 pigs have been culled in the country. Local government units have since banned the entry of live hogs and even pork products shipped from areas affected by the swine fever. The Department of Interior and Local Government said processed meat should not be covered by the ban, noting that these products are guaranteed safe if with proper government certifications.

Still, some officials, including Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia, defied the DILG's order, saying they could not compromise the welfare of their constituents.

African Swine Fever only affects pigs, but humans can carry the virus and spread the disease. The virus quickly spreads in an affected hog, which could lead to death after three to five days, threatening food supply.