Stop meat confiscation, govt urged

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MEAT traders and importers on Thursday appealed to the government to stop confiscating imported frozen pork in wet markets since these are not spoiled meat.

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Jess Cham, president of the Meat Importers and Traders Association Inc., said the ongoing crackdown by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) deprives market vendors their right to gainful livelihood.

“[The] government is hurting the poor sector of our economy, especially during this Christmas season by denying them access to imported frozen pork that is safe, nutritious economical and affordable,” Cham said in a press briefing.

He assailed the NMIS for comparing imported frozen pork with “botcha,” the local term for illegally slaughtered hogs.

“All imported frozen pork in the Philippines can only come from approved foreign meat establishments, whose facilities and protocols have been inspected and whose products have been certified as wholesome by the food safety agencies of the exporting countries and duly approved and recognized by the Philippine government,” Cham pointed out.

He said the NMIS should respect the global trading order and comply with the science-based safety standards and recommendations promulgated by the international food safety organization Codex as the Philippines is a member of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Cham said there is no reason for the government to declare imported frozen pork unsafe.

He noted that since 1996, there had never been any single documented case of sickness arising from the consumption of frozen imported meat products.

“We assure the consumers of the wholesomeness and safety of imported frozen pork.

In fact, we have local studies to show that random samples of imported frozen pork taken in the wet markets passed the NMIS standard for microbial count and analysis, while their counterpart local fresh pork that were tested in the same study did not pass the government standard,” he added.

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