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Drive vs ‘hot meat’ intensified

LEGAZPI CITY --- The National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) in Bicol confiscated 529 kilos of undocumented imported meat in two supermarkets in Naga City, a top NMIS official said on Sunday.

Alex Templonuevo NMIS regional director, said the imported meat products were confiscated during a surprise inspection in two supermarkets in Naga City last Saturday where they were found to have no shipment and NMIS permits.

Templonuevo in a phone interview said the confiscated imported meat products were brought to the government-run cold storage facility in Naga City while the supermarket administrators concerned were ordered to show the appropriate documents, or else the illegal merchandize would be incinerated.

NMIS inspectors are strictly checking the entry of banned imported meat products, specifically those coming from 19 countries whose meat products are suspected to be infected with diseases. “We are very particular in finding out where the shipment came; this is one measure to prevent the entry of contaminated products,” he said.

The agency has organized “Task Force Bantay Karne” in every province, town and city in the region that will conduct inspection in supermarkets, groceries, cold stores, including wet markets that are selling imported meat and poultry products, Templonuevo said.

As this developed, checkpoints have been set up in entry and exit areas across the city as a contingency measure against the entry of live animals, meat products infected with the African Swine Fever (AFS)virus, the Legazpi City Veterinary Office (CVO) said on Saturday.

Dr. Emmanuel Estipona, CVO chief, said they have dispatched personnel to assist police checkpoints in six strategic boundary areas where cargo trucks loaded with contaminated meat prodiucts, as well as live animals from other provinces could enter the city.

Estipona in a phone interview said that although there have been no reports yet of animals infected with diseases in this city, “we are not keeping our guards down even as will be strict in preventing the entry of animals and other meat products amidst the increasing incidence of the swine and hog disease in some provinces outside the region.”

He said the checkpoints would not allow the transport of live animals, meat products and meat by-products into the city unless accompanied by Veterinary Health Certificate (VHC) and a shipping permit from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).

To prevent and control the disease, backyard raisers in the city’s 70 barangays have been advised to temporarily ban swill feeding to hogs.

He also said that all meat and meat by-products without Meat Inspection Certificate (MIC) being sold in public markets, supermarkets, and groceries will be confiscated and considered as “Hot Meat.”

To allay fears and debunk reports that the dreaded African Swine Fever has already affected local meat products, the city is coming up with a Lechon Festival to show that meat products in the city are safe to eat.

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