Cebu officials say pork in markets safe from swine flu

April 30, 2009 10:59 am 

CEBU CITY, April 29 -– Cebu market officials have assured residents pork sold in markets in Cebu City and Cebu Province is free from swine flu because its is locally sourced from the Visayas and Mindanao and has shown no signs of disease.

The only imported products, particularly at the Carbon Public Market, the city’s biggest public market, are fat and animal skin from Canada that are used for chorizo (pork sausages) and chicharon (pork cracklings), said Cebu City market administrator Rachel Arce.

The National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) 7 also assured the public that Cebu and the rest of Central Visayas are swine flu-free and a system is in place to prevent the entry of contaminated animals.

NMIS 7 Technical Director Romeo Capa said inspectors have not found any such disease among animals slaughtered and the meat circulated in Cebu and Region 7.

Imported meat products are required a meat inspection certificate that guarantees the meat is free form disease, said Dr. Alvin A. Leal, head of the NMIS 7 Meat Import-Export Assistance and Inspection Division.

The demand for meat, particularly pork, has not been depressed by reports of swine flu, which has killed over 100 persons abroad, said Barangay Councilor Erwin Gok-ong of Ermita, Cebu City, who is also Cebu Market Vendors Development Cooperation (Cemvedco) president.

”We do not get any hogs from Mexico. The meat being sold in our markets is locally sourced,” he said.

Dr. Alice Utlang, chief of Cebu City’s Division of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries, has said stringent measures on the shipment of cattle and fowl to Cebu are already in place, as a result of the foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease and Avian Flu scare.

Masbate, Palawan, and the islands of the Visayas and Mindanao were internationally declared as FMD-free, so strict measures against the shipment from infected areas were already being observed even before the discovery of the Ebola-Reston virus in northern Luzon late last year and the swine flu in Mexico.

The NMIS will condemn any shipment that turns out to have bacteria above the allowed limits, said Dr. Leal of the import-export assistance and inspection division.

As a precaution, the Bureau of Quarantine (BQ) 7 will screen through “thermal scanning” all arriving international airline passengers at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) and Cebu International Port (CIP), after health officials raised an alert level to guard against swine flu, which has killed more than a hundred in Mexico and the United States.

Feverish arriving passengers will be immediately sent to the BQ clinic at the airport for further data gathering, surveillance or quarantine.

Those believed to be suffering forms wine flu will be transported to the government-run Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City.

The European Union has called on Europeans to suspend travel to US and Mexico.

The Department of Health (DOH) 7 also advised families not take flu-like symptoms lightly, and to seek treatment at the first sign of fever, cough, diarrhea, sore throat and joint and muscle pains.

”If anybody hears or sees that families in their communities are falling sick and have the flu, they should immediately report this to us or the health centers so that we can take action immediately,” DOH 7 Director Dr. Susana Madarieta said. (PNA)

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