Meat traders buck Alcala pronouncement on imports
(The Philippine Star) - August 11, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Meat importers are protesting the pronouncement made by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala restricting the entry of imported meat to only a maximum of six months from the period the livestock was slaughtered.

In a letter to Alcala dated July 5, Meat Importers & Traders Association Inc. president Jesus Cham said the enforcement of this trade restriction would affect local supply and prices and at the same time damage trade relations with foreign suppliers.

Alcala announced that the Department of Agriculture found several violations by meat importers sourcing from United States, Canada and other countries.

Without naming them, Alcala said the traders were found diverting expired meat into the country.

 “The DA (Department of Agricuture) will allow entry up to a maximum of six months from the period the livestock was slaughtered,” said Alcala. “I strongly believe that we have to protect our people from expired and expiring meat.   This is a concern that should be addressed with a sense of urgency.”

Alcala also announced the creation of a so-called green lane facility for meat importers who have a good record of compliance with government regulations. Imported meat products that pass through this lane would be subjected to minimal physical inspection.

Cham said the six-month cut off for the entry of meat imports is unnecessary because meat importers submit shipments to the quarantine clearance procedure imposed by the quarantine officers of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) at the point of entry and imported meat products are also inspected by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) at cold storage.

“Meat importers recently underwent a stringent re-accreditation process by the NMIS whereby nearly a third of the importing companies were delisted. Thus it comes as a surprise to read your announcement of violation of the rules,” said Cham referring to the overhaul of the list of accredited meat importers being carried out by the NMIS.

“We sincerely hope that the DA will not be misled by the hog producers and turn the six-month product age requirement into another technical barrier to trade in disguise,” he added.

Cham also argued that imported frozen meat that enter the country comes from foreign meat establishments approved by the DA.

 “These globally traded products have the assurance that the meat was hygienically frozen while still fresh, and that the products were not mishandled,” he said. “Furthermore, the shipping lines maintain standards and procedure to ensure that untoward incidents, such as failure of refrigeration equipment, that result in any damage to the goods are dulty noted and reported.”

Cham noted that with advancements in refrigeration technology, many countries, including the United States, have stopped imposing the requirement of expiration dates on a number of frozen products.

“It had been scientifically proven that spoilage stops when product is frozen,” he said.

 

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY PROCESO ALCALA ALCALA BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICUTURE IMPORTERS JESUS CHAM MEAT MEAT IMPORTERS UNITED STATES
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