MANILA, Philippines – A senator has urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to heighten precautionary measures to prevent students from consuming pork products tainted with African Swine Fever (ASF) in schools.
In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said DepEd should exercise vigilance following reports that processed pork meats from China tested positive for ASF, as well as some skinless longganisa and hotdog products from local manufacturer, Mekeni.
“Sa mga feeding program na isinasagawa ng DepEd, halimbawa, dapat siguruhin ng ating mga guro na gumagamit sila ng mga malinis at mapagkakatiwalaang mga produktong ipakakain sa mga bata,” he said in a statement.
While ASF does not pose a threat to human health, the senator said schools should raise awareness and exhaust all sanitary measures to protect students from ASF-contaminated products.
Gatchalian also cited an advisory from the Department of Health which identified uncooked and undercooked contaminated pork as a source of ASF’s spread in swine herds.
Health authorities said the swine disease is introduced into a herd when contaminated raw pork is ingested by a pig. The virus spreads when contaminated pigs get into direct contact with other pigs.
Food waste, feed, and garbage can also cause ASF when ingested by pigs.
“Etong mga hakbang na maaari nating gawin, nagsisimula ito sa responsableng pamimili at lubos na pagluluto ng karne sa mga paaralan. Ito ay upang maiwasan natin ang pagkakasakit ng mga mag-aaral pati na rin ang pagkalat pa ng ASF,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture earlier said that the illegal importation of pork products from China was responsible for the spread of the ASF virus in the country.
Gatchalian also urged DepEd to involve parents in efforts to raise awareness on sanitary practices and preventive measures.
“While schools play an important role to protect our students’ health, it is important that we also extend our efforts at the household level. Kahit gawin ng mga paaralan ang lahat ng pwedeng gawin kung hindi naman nababantayan sa mga bahay nila, malalagay pa rin sa panganib ang ating mga estudyante,” he said.
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