Meat and farm products have long been the center of issues on smuggling and animal diseases. This is why the Department of Agriculture (DA) decided in 2019 that they would construct an inspection facility for all imported meat products. The plan, although put on hold for over a year, will now be rolled out this 2020.
DA Secretary William Dar has recently announced that the facilities, called the agriculture commodity examination area (ACEA), will be constructed in major ports in the country. This is to allow authorities to fully inspect all entering cargo at any of the ports in the country.
“The ACEAs will enable us to perform a 100-percent inspection of farm commodities, especially those on high risk or ‘alert order’ status. This will help us reduce or prevent smuggling of agricultural products, and prevent the entry of major animal, plant and fish diseases that will endanger the country’s agriculture industry,” Secretary Dar said.
He adds that ACEA facilities will be manned by more than 30 authorities and will have a controlled temperature system. The ACEAs will also have an in-house laboratory so that samples from meat and fish cargo that are suspected to be carrying any animal disease or hazardous contents can be tested on the spot. (Read: Scientists Discover New Swine Flu Virus That May Cause A Pandemic)
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In addition, the ACEA will also have a crematorium so that any product that will test positive for any hazardous content or disease for the proper disposal of the products in cases that it can no longer be returned to its point of origin. The first one to be constructed will be at the Manila International Container Port.
The establishment of these facilities will strengthen the existing Food and Safety Act of 2013, which says that all imported meat and food products arriving at any port in the Philippines must be inspected by the Bureau of Customs (BOC). However, this only requires that container vans are opened and closed to avoid spoilage and contamination. (Read: 3 Secrets To Ensure Food Safety Amid COVID-19 Pandemic)
The start of the construction of the ACEA is good timing as there is a new strain of the swine flu, called G4, that has been discovered in China. The said strain, according to scientists, may cause a pandemic if not controlled as soon as possible.