By Chito Chavez
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Friday met with the owners and representatives of the city’s supermarkets, groceries, and wet markets and representatives of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in a bid to end the African Swine Flu (ASF) scare in the city.
Although the ASF disease had been contained on November 2019, Belmonte confirmed there were isolated cases where ASF-laced meat products from Bulacan found their way to the shelves of the local supermarkets and groceries in the city.
With these incidents, Belmonte said inspections will be zeroed in on supermarkets and groceries for possible ASF-infected meat products.
Explaining further, Belmonte cited the need to focus attention on the supermarkets, stressing that there are no more backyard hog raisers in the locality.
Based on the city’s continuous and intense inspections, Belmonte said no ASF-laced meats were found in the local wet markets.
She noted the aim is for the Department of Agriculture (DA) to declare Quezon City ASF-free in the wake of reports that ASF-contaminated meat products have resurfaced in other localities.
Director Reildrin Morales of the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) admitted that their lack of manpower had made it a “Herculean’’ job for them to prevent the entry of contaminated meat products into Quezon City.
Although the NMIS has tried its best to deter the entry of spoiled meat products, unscrupulous groups and errant traders continue to ply their illegal trade of delivering ASF-laced meats to various markets and supermarkets in the country.
In the case of a grocery on Congressional Avenue and another on Commonwealth Avenue where ASF-tainted meat products were discovered recently, Morales did not discount the possibility that there was a switching of the meat that found its way into their freezers.
The NMIS is the agency authorized to issue clearances for the lawful sale of meat products in markets, including supermarkets and groceries.
Morales also expressed appreciation to Belmonte for the city government’s cooperation with the NMIS to prevent the entry of ASF-tainted products in the local market.
The Quezon City government and the supermarket and grocery owners agreed to forge an agreement pertaining to the prevention of the entry of ASF-laced meat products into their stores.
Belmonte also warned erring business establishments engaged in the sale of ASF-tainted meat products of strict sanctions.