Customs implements strict meat inspection measures vs. swine flu

Bureau of Customs (BOC) spokesperson Erastus Austria said Thursday that strict measures are being implemented in major entry points of the country to prevent the feared outbreak of the African swine flu.

We are very stringent in inspecting the pork products that arrive in our international airports as well as seaports at tinitingnan natin 'yung country of origin nito, Austria said in an interview on Balitanghali.

He said that no pork products from swine flu-hit countries entered the Philippines since the ban was implemented.

Swine meat from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa, Zambia, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukarine, Hungary and China were no longer allowed to get into the country's market.

Only those legally coming in from Brazil, Canada, Germany, US, and Spain were monitored by BOC.

According to its records, 4,099 metric tons pork products were imported to the Philippines from December 1 to 20, 2018.

These came in through the major ports such as Port of Manila, Manila International Container Port, Port of Cebu, and Port of Davao.

On the United Nations Comtrade Report which cites data that China exports pork to the Philippines, Austria said that such transactions are yet to be verified.

That would be quite impossible to happen na merong dumarating na ganyan unless the importer has misdeclared these items, he said.

These are agricultural products, mahirap po 'yang ma-misdeclare at madali lang din siyang ma-detect because of the nature of the commodity, he added.

Austria also noted that even before the swine flu outbreak, the agency has already implemented rigorous inspections of agricultural products as requested by the Department of Agriculture (DA) in an effort to prevent smuggling.

Personnel from the DA, Bureau of Animal Industry, and Bureau of Plant Industry were also assigned in ports to inspect all the imported agricultural products.

Some stakeholders of the swine industry in the Philippines have earlier expressed fears that the possible outbreak might overwhelm their business.

Agriculture Secretary Manny PiAol, on the other hand, said that the industry is ready and all appropriate measures are in place.

Cases of humans contracting the swine flu virus are rare, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred, it said. �Dona Magsino/ LDF, GMA News

Source: Bureau of Custom (News)

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