SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — A reefer van full of meat products suspected of being infected with the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF) virus arrived here from China but was immediately seized by Port authorities recently, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) announced today.
“It was immediately flagged by the quarantine officer from the Department of Agriculture, and then the Bureau of Customs confiscated the shipment,” said SBMA Chairman Wilma T. Eisma, adding that the shipment was from Guangzhou, China, one of several countries tagged to have ASF virus infestations that could wreak havoc on the livestock industry.
Valued at some P600,000, the meat products contained in 2,385 packages listed as “food items” were consigned to a trading corporation based in Makati City.
Eisma said the confiscated meat will be immediately destroyed, as recommended by the Bureau of Quarantine Services, with the Bureau of Animal Industry disposing of it at the expense of the consignee.
She said the Port of Subic has been on the lookout for pork products after the government called for strict monitoring in all ports to prevent the entry into the country of pork products contaminated with ASF.
According to Jerome Martinez, manager of the SBMA Seaport Department, the Chinese meat products were shipped in refrigerated or reefer van aboard MV Hansa Altenburg, a container ship that arrived in Subic on May 27.
Martinez said the meat shipment had a dutiable value of P591,817.90. He added that the confiscated meat will be injected with chemicals and then buried underground.
The World Organization for Animal health (OIE) has declared ASF to be a highly-contagious hemorrhagic viral disease affecting domestic and wild pigs.
Experts say that while ASF and classical swine fever (CSF) may have similar signs, the ASF virus is unrelated to the CSF virus.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week ordered the recall and seizure of imported pork meat products from countries suspected to be affected by the ASF virus.
These are China, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zambia, South Africa, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Mongolia, Moldova, and Belgium.
Last week, 69 of 103 container vans containing hazardous wastes were finally shipped out from here back to Canada after six years of heated public protests and debates. The rest of the 103 vans are either already dumped or missing. (Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.)