BACOLOD City – The African swine fever (ASF) task force of Negros Occidental has sought stringent rules in the sale of frozen meat products in the province.
Provincial Veterinarian Renante Decena, vice chairman of the task force, said on Tuesday a meat handling advisory has been issued to local chief executives, through their respective market supervisors.
“Everyone’s cooperation is highly encouraged in keeping Negros Occidental an ASF-free province,” he said.
As of January this year, Negros Occidental remains the country’s number one producer of backyard swine. The province has a total swine population of 508,709 heads – 451,035 of these are from backyard raisers and 57,674 from the commercial sector.
According to Decena, frozen meats should not be displayed as he cited Section 7 of the Department of Agriculture Administrative Order 06, series of 2012.
The advisory states that frozen meat shall be kept at a product temperature not higher than zero degrees Celsius during its handling, storage, distribution, and sale.
Moreover, the product shall be sold from display or chest freezers that maintain product temperature at a maximum of zero degrees Celsius or lower.
“When frozen meat is cut into smaller blocks for retail sale, the cutting shall take place under temperature-controlled conditions in an accredited and registered meat establishment or in a central cutting facility in the market,” it added.
Other provisions state that vendors can continue selling frozen meat, provided its original quality and product temperature are maintained.
All meat sold at local markets must be properly inspected by National Meat Inspection Services- deputized meat inspectors and should come from locally registered meat establishments, it added.
The ASF task force, chaired by Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, includes quick response, quarantine, surveillance, information, education and communication, and legal teams.
It is assigned to carry out the proper implementation of ASF prevention and control measures, enhance biosecurity practices in all ports of entry and swine production facilities, and coordinate and cooperate with the appropriate national government agencies in case of a suspected outbreak.
The body will also enhance biosecurity practices in all ports of entry and swine production facilities, conduct initial disease investigation and institute outbreak control protocols in case of a suspected outbreak, and impose closure of any farm confirmed to be infected with ASF. (With a report from PNA/PN)