Alarm bells raised over smuggled expired meat products

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AGRICULTURAL industry alliance Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) has called for an investigation of the alleged smuggling of some six million kilos of expired meat products into the country, saying that the shipments did not undergo required quarantine tests and food safety procedures.

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Sinag chairperson Rosendo So said data obtained by their group from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) showed some 121.6 million kilos of imported pork and other meat products entered the country from January to June 2014.

However, records from the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) revealed that only 116 million kilos passed through proper quarantine inspection.

“This means that about 5.6 million kilos [of possible harmful meat products]are unaccounted for,” So said.

He urged Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Customs Commissioner John Philip Sevilla to immediately conduct an investigation and ensure that the welfare of the consuming public is protected.

For his part, Vicente Mercado, chairman of the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (NFHFI), called on meat importers to disclose all documentary requirements—including arrival date, quarantine inspection certificates, destination of meat delivery, and the names of the companies or restaurant chains that received the imported meat products.

Mercado said Sinag’s expose’ comes at a critical period following claims by a group of meat importers that it’s alright to eat expired meat as long as these are frozen.

“No country allows the resale of frozen meat as chilled and no country should ever allow thawed frozen meat to be passed off and sold as fresh meat,” he said.

He said the meat importers’ misplaced mindset is alarming, especially in view of the recent expired meat scandal in China.

He was referring to Shanghai Husi Company—a major supplier to fast-food chains like McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Dicos was found to be supplying expired meat products,” he continued.

SINAG and NHFI advised the public to patronize freshly slaughtered meat from domestic hog growers, adding that there’s enough local production to meet the country’s meat demands.

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