TO ENSURE that meat products sold in the market are safe to consume, a top official from the National Meat Inspection Services (NMIS) 7 has urged the local government units (LGUs) to hire and train their own meat inspectors.
NMIS 7 Eduardo Oblena said the agency has been actively promoting and partnering with the different stakeholders to raise consumer awareness on the importance of meticulously checking meat sources for safety.
“We’ve done a lot of info drives along this line... and even with the limitations due to the pandemic, we have been going around putting up streamers and tarpaulins and even doing face-to-face activities to maintain awareness among consumers,” said Oblena during the agency’s recent audit for Virginia’s rated AA slaughterhouse and meat cutting facility in Asturias, Cebu.
But despite these efforts, Oblena said these aren’t enough without the active involvement of the LGUs. He said local officials need to enforce policies to stop illegal slaughtering and selling of hogs without proper food safety permits.
“These illegal activities that did not go through the proper process, and don’t have the food safety certifications will threaten the industry and the people because it is how diseases are spread,” said Oblena, citing the case in Davao, where the meat sold in the market did not have necessary certificates, causing the spread of African swine fever in some areas in Mindanao.
Oblena also said unregulated activities administered to hogs are also threats to public health.
“Some use too much growth promoters in their farms and then slaughter their hogs without proper withdrawal period leaving residues of these drugs in the meat which are then consumed by humans and causes illnesses even in small amounts,” said Oblena.
He noted that a political will and a sustained information campaign to educate the consumers are needed to make sure food supplies are safe to eat.
“One thing that LGUs can do is to hire and train their own meat inspectors. For an LGU with a slaughterhouse facility like Virginia Slaughterhouse and Meat Plant, they should have at least three trained meat inspectors that we can deputize,” he said.
Besides Virginia Farms, there are two other NMIS-accredited slaughterhouses, namely Sunpride Foods Inc. in Mandaue City and Talisay City Slaughterhouse, which is the only government-owned and-run facility in Cebu.
Oblena said there are more slaughterhouse facilities currently being constructed in Cebu. (KOC)