Amid ban, fast food chains turn to local pork suppliers

GOOD news awaits consumers in Cebu who are missing their favorite dishes in fast food chains that had been affected by the ban on pork products and commingled meat from Luzon.

As the Provincial Government continues to implement Executive Order (EO) 23, Provincial Veterinarian Mary Rose Vincoy said fast-food chains have decided to tap a local meat importer and meat processors to meet the market demand for meal items with meat.

“They are now dealing with our local processors. They are changing their strategy just to make sure that they can enter the Cebu market as well as the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao,” Vincoy said Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019.

“According to them (other Vis-Min local government units), ‘if Cebu is amenable to your plan, then it will also be okay for us,’” she added.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia issued on Nov. 6, 2019 EO 23, which declares as unlawful the bringing into Cebu Province of any and all kinds of meat (chicken, beef or fish) and any kind of food product that has been stored in the same cold storage facility as pork, pork-related products and byproducts sourced from Luzon.

Garcia also extended the ban on shipments of live hogs, pork, pork-related products, by-products and boar semen from Luzon to June 30, 2020, instead of Dec. 28, 2019.

A month before EO 23 was issued, fast-food meal items with meat were already taken out of the menu due to the lack of supply as a result of the ban.

The ban was implemented to prevent the spread of the African swine fever (ASF), a disease fatal to hogs, in Cebu.

With the Capitol further tightening its measures by also prohibiting the entry of commingled meat and food products, Vincoy said fast-food chains had to look for ways to ensure that their business would not be compromised.

“They were affected by EO 23, so in order for them to assure us that their products were not commingled with pork sourced from Luzon or imported but stored in a cold storage facility in Luzon, they have to provide documents,” she said.

The Food and Drug Administration will conduct another audit and inspect these meat products as part of the report that they will submit to the Province to ensure that the cold storage facilities of these fast-food chains were not commingled with pork from Luzon.

Vincoy said McDonald’s Philippines had already complied with the requirements provided under EO 23.

On Wednesday morning, the provincial veterinarian met with representatives of Jollibee Foods Corp. to discuss the firm’s plans to also tap local meat processors.

Vincoy explained that fast- food chains source their meat products from Luzon or from countries not affected by the ASF.

She added that usually, when an imported meat product arrives at the port in Manila, the meat inspection seal on the package would be opened before these are sent to a cold storage plant.

The transshipment to Cebu will then follow.

This means that whether or not it was imported, the products would be treated as having come from Luzon.

Vincoy had advised importers to send their meat products directly to Cebu.

If it has to go through Manila ports, importers are advised to keep the seals and wait until it reaches Cebu before opening the products for cold storage.

She said this will ensure that the meat products will not be tampered with.

With the development, Vincoy said the growth in the P11 billion local hog industry may be expected as local swine raisers will be given an opportunity to develop their business. (RTF)