Meat products firm Mekeni Food Corporation recalls pork-based goods

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 26) — A processed food company announced on Saturday it is recalling some of its products in the wake of a report showing several processed food products tested positive for the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus.

In a statement Saturday, Mekeni Food Corporation said it was initiating a "voluntary recall" of all its pork-based products effective October 26.

"This is to ensure that we mitigate the possibility that our products inadvertently become carriers of ASF," the company's statement said.

"We also have been cooperating with the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) in their ongoing testing of products for possible exposure to African Swine Fever. We have submitted samples of our pork-based products to the BAI as well as an independent testing facility," it said.

In a press conference Saturday afternoon, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said, "It's their decision, kami ay nagpapatupad lang ng mga regulasyon [we only implement regulations]. If this is part of solving the problem, then that's a welcome development."

However, Dar reiterated they have not ordered any recall.

Earlier, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said they have confiscated from a traveler in Mindoro several food items being hand-carried from Central Luzon.

"In cases like these, kung mas matimbang ang problema natin like with ASF, with the event in Mindoro ang gagawin namin is random sampling of products in coordination with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)," he said.

[Translation: In cases like these, when the problem is much bigger like with ASF, with the event in Mindoro, what we will do is the random sampling of products in coordination with the FDA.]

The oversight for all processed food products remains with the Food and Drug Administration.

In the same press conference, Dar revealed meat products from China were confiscated in Manila port this week.

On Thursday, the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) threatened to sue government agencies for allegedly failing to test imported pork and processed meat products for the African Swine Fever virus.

SINAG said all pork and pork-based products imported in the country "have never been subjected to any ASF testing at the first port of entry," as mandated by law.

ASF, which only affects hogs, has reached the country in September of this year. The virus quickly spreads in an affected hog, which could lead to sudden death.

Humans can be carriers of the African swine virus and they can spread the disease. Dar said the only way humans can know whether they carry the disease is through laboratory tests.

The Department of Health said cured pork items, even if they are also contaminated with the swine virus, are safe to eat.