CEBU CITY— The National Meat Inspection Services Central Visayas (NMIS 7) has asked the support of local government units (LGUs) to ensure that meat circulating in the market are safe for human consumption.
NMIS 7 Dr. Eduardo R. Oblena said they will need strong support from the LGUs to effectively enforce policies on meat safety.
“We’ve done a lot of info drives along this line. Even with the limitations due to the pandemic, we have been going around putting up streamers and tarpaulins and even doing face-to-face activities to maintain awareness among consumers,” Oblena said at the sidelines of last Friday’s audit on Virginia Slaughterhouse and Meat Plant in Asturias town, Cebu.
According to Oblena, the NMIS has been actively promoting and partnering with the different stakeholders to make the consumers aware about the importance of meticulously checking their meat sources for safety.
Oblena emphasized that efforts will not be enough to stop slaughtering and selling of hogs without proper food safety permits from their office without active participation of the LGUs, which have more capacity in monitoring and enforcing the policies at the local level.
“These illegal activities that did not go through the proper process, and don’t have the food safety certifications threaten the industry and the people because it is how diseases are spread. One case in point is an incident in Davao where the meat sold in the market did not have the necessary certificates caused the spread of ASF (African swine fever) which affected the farms in the area,” Oblena said.
Oblena added that, while ASF doesn’t affect human beings, the disease has the potential to disrupt the supply chain as it wipes out herd population that may affect local supply and the economy.
Another threat is on human health as these unregulated activities may cause illness caused by abusive use of drugs administered to the hogs.
“Some use too much growth promoters in their farms and then slaughter their hogs without proper withdrawal period leaving residues of these drugs in the meat which are then consumed by humans and causes illnesses even in small amounts,” said Oblena.
Strong political will to enforce the policies and maintained information campaign to educate the consumers are needed to make sure food supplies are safe to eat, Oblena said
“One thing that LGUs can do is to hire and train their own Meat Inspectors,” he said.
In Cebu, there are three NMIS-accredited slaughterhouses including Virginia Slaughterhouse and Meat Plant, Sunpride Foods, Inc. located in Mandaue City, and Talisay City Slaughterhouse which is the only government owned and run facility in Cebu.