African Swine Fever: Is It Still Safe To Buy And Eat Pork?
The Department of Agriculture confirmed the African Swine Fever has hit the Philippines in a press conference held on September 9, 2019. Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that 14 out of the 20 pig blood samples sent for a laboratory test in the United Kingdom were found positive for African Swine Fever.
Two provinces in Luzon are affected by the African Swine Fever, namely Rodriguez and Antipolo in Rizal and Guiguinto in Bulacan are gravely affected by the disease. Dar said, "7,416 have been depopulated. When I say depopulated, kasama na 'yun apektado at hindi apektado within the one-kilometer radius."
The Department of Agriculture is doing the necessary measures to address the African Swine Fever, but here's what you need to know:
Is it safe to buy and eat pork?
According to the World Organization for Animal Health, the African Swine Fever is a "highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs." The disease can be transmitted to pigs through direct contact with infected pigs, indirect contact through the ingestion of contaminated material, and the contaminated materials itself. This means clothing, furniture, etc. which has been in contact with the infectious hogs.
Despite the gravity of the African Swine Fever's effect on our local hog industry, the World Organization for Animal Health says that the African Swine Fever does not pose a health risk to humans.
Dar says that it is safe to eat pork, but he does urge the public to buy pork from those establishments with the stamp of the National Meat Inspection Services. This specialized regulatory agency, under the Department of Agriculture, ensures that the meat you are buying underwent proper inspection.
For sigurista home cooks, the National Meat Inspection Services often updates its official website with local and foreign accredited meat establishments, meat contractors, meat establishment fabricators, and even cold storage warehouses.
In a related report by the Philippine Star, Mac Dormiendo, the External Relations Officer for Luzon of San Miguel Pure Foods Co. Inc., assured the public that their pork products, like Purefoods and Monterey, are not affected by the African Swine Flu because they claim their farms and facilities follow strict protocols. They also have the required permits from the Bureau of Animal Industry and the National Meat Inspection Service. Dormiendo adds, "Our hogs are also 'grain-fed' with grain feeds produced from the state-of-the-art feed mills of the company."
So, yes, we can still buy and eat pork! But, please, it would be best to be vigilant and patronize reputable butchers until the disease is quarantined.