FDA orders recall of processed pork from African Swine Fever-affected countries

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 28) — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday ordered the pull out of processed pork from countries affected by the African Swine Fever, officer-in-charge Eric Domingo said. He said the items will be immediately "recalled and seized" from Philippine markets to prevent contamination.

"These will be padlocked to be sure na hindi na maibebenta," he told CNN Philippines.

The Department of Agriculture and stakeholders of the Philippine hog industry on Monday asked FDA to recall processed pork products, including processed luncheon meat Ma Ling, from countries affected by the African Swine Fever.

They sought the recall of all pork products manufactured starting August 2018 from 16 ASF-affected countries 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.

FDA, in its order dated May 27, urged distributors and other dealers of processed meat products to abide by its directive.

It also warned consumers to be wary of their future purchases.

“The public is advised to exercise extreme caution in purchasing and consuming processed pork meat products and is advised to only consume processed pork meat products which are sourced from countries other than the above listed countries suspected to be affected by ASF virus, and are registered with the FDA,” the document read.

Virus in processed goods

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol explained that the virus can thrive even in processed goods.

"While we consider Ma Ling and other processed pork products as minimal risk products, we still would like to pursue the banning of these products because we cannot take chances because according to experts the ASF virus can survive the processing and even heat used in the processing," he said.

Domingo, who also serves as Health Undersecretary, added, "A virus can stay dormant. Kahit processed, minsan naiiwan ang virus."

Piñol added that those found violating the ban could be fined P200,000 under the Food Security Act.

He also assured the public the Filipino hog raisers can address the needs of the country.

The African Swine Fever poses no direct and immediate danger to human health. But its spread may threaten the hog industry, with major potential impact on supplies and prices. The disease, which has no vaccine or cure, was first detected in Asia in 2018 in an area in Siberia, according to the United Nations. In December 2018, the Department of Agriculture said pork products from affected countries will be confiscated at the country's points of entry to prevent its spread.