Meat importers assure public: Frozen meat safe
- Marianne V. Go () - December 4, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Meat Importers and Traders Association (MITA) is disputing allegations that all frozen meat sold in local markets is unsafe.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, MITA president Jesus Cham said all legally imported meat are sourced from foreign meat establishments (FMEs) that are HACCP-certified and export their products all over the world including the Philippines. HACCP or hazard analysis critical control point is an approach used in the food industry to identify and remove potential food safety hazards.

MITA said “it is unreasonable and unscientific to claim that the products that are deemed ‘safe’ in other countries are ‘unsafe’ in the Philippines.”

MITA said the FMEs are accredited by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS). The imported frozen meat, the group vouched, come with international health certificates issued by the exporting country.

Once in the Philippines, MITA said the imported frozen meat is subject to BAI quarantine clearance and NMIS food safety inspection and stored in duly accredited cold storages under the supervision of NMIS.

MITA, however, said the handling of the meat is dependent on the handler.

Most importers, MITA pointed out, deliver the products to their customers rock-frozen and are not involved in its thawing or repacking. “Importers are more cognizant of proper handling procedures than meat vendors,” the group said.

MITA said local meat may be considered “unsafe” compared to processed frozen imported meats, which follow strict processing and temperature requirements. The group said in local slaughterhouses, hogs are slaughtered at ambient temperature and are transported and sold at wet markets at the same ambient temperature almost the whole day.

At room temperature, the group said that in 12 hours, one bacterium could multiply to more than 10 million. The international food agency Codex Alimentarius sets the standard bacterial count for meat at between 500,000 and 10 million.

MITA said imported meat is frozen right after slaughter and stored at 10 degrees Centigrade.

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY PROCESO ALCALA BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY CODEX ALIMENTARIUS FOOD FROZEN IMPORTED JESUS CHAM MEAT MEAT IMPORTERS AND TRADERS ASSOCIATION MITA NATIONAL MEAT INSPECTION SERVICE
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