AGRI industry lobby group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) on Wednesday commended Bureau of Customs Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Jessie Dellosa for standing his ground on the discovery of some 158 containers carrying expired imported pork meat.
According to Sinag, the 158 containers (or almost 4 million kilos) are part of the almost 203 containers earlier identified by the group as containing expired imported pork meat.
“If not from sources from the ground, these containers could have easily slipped out of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) premises as importers were said to have ‘secured’ clearances and demanded the authorities for the release of these containers,” said Sinag chairman Rosendo So.
The group is seeking an explanation from both the BOC and the Department of Agriculture on why these containers, some dating back to as early as January 2014, are still languishing at the BOC despite questionable documents.
“Sinu-sino ang nag padrino sa mga kontrabando na muntik pang mailabas at maibenta sa palengke [Who were the sponsors of this contraband shipment that was nearly released and sold in public markets]?” asked So.
“There were recent reports of ‘raids’ in wet markets in Manila and as far as Pangasinan of expired meats. How many of those raided could have come from these 203 containers?” added So.
Sinag alleged that these raids are only token efforts of the government since there is no way of knowing who are the real importers or traders of this expired meat. It said retailers simply leave their trade or are nominally apprehended during these raids, but the importer-consignees remain free.
Under the new Food and Safety Act of 2013 (RA 10611), these expired meat would have long been rendered condemned since the required quarantine tests and food safety examinations would already reveal the “risk” and unwholesomeness of these expired imported meat for human consumption.
“These meat importers/consignees have no business in the food industry as they pose the greatest threat to our public health security. Hindi po porke’t mura, tatangkilikin at bibilhin na po natin ang basura (expired meat) ng ibang bansa [We should not patronize and buy trash from other countries just because they are cheap],” So said.
Sinag reminds the public to patronize only freshly slaughtered meat from local hog growers, noting that the Philippines is “one of the few countries that is FMD-free,” referring to foot-and-mouth disease.
There is enough local production to meet the country’s pork demands, especially now that the festive season is upon us, Sinag pointed out.