Modern meat inspection lab up in GenSan soon for Singapore market

Salvador Salacup, Department of Agriculture's (DA) assistant secretary for agribusiness and marketing assistance, said the proposed meat inspection laboratory will be used to test the presence of veterinary drug residues and other possible contaminants in pork meat products.

He said the national government initially committed to invest some P50 million for the construction of the laboratory.

"We are now putting in place the needed systems to comply with Singapore's stringent requirements such as the implementation of a farm inspection system and assurance that Mindanao pork is free from veterinary drug residue," Salacup said at the recent 2nd Soccsksargen Area Business Conference held in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat.

Singapore earlier sought the shipment of pork meat products from this city and the neighboring areas following the outbreak of the foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Malaysia where it sources the bulk of its pork meat requirements.

Singapore's Agriculture and Veterinary Authority (AVA), which inspected several meat processing plants in the area last year, initially approved the shipment of some 300 metric tons of pork meat from the area starting this June or July.

The initial shipment will be coming from the Davao City-based Nenita Quality Foods Corporation and the Matutum Meats Packaging Corporation based in nearby Polomolok, South Cotabato.

Aside from Singapore, Salacup said they are currently eyeing possible pork meat shipments from Mindanao to several markets in the Asia Pacific region.

He said Mindanao has been fast emerging as an alternative source of quality pork meat products being recognized by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) or World Organization for Animal Health as FMD-free zone.

Salacup said that for the past eight years, Mindanao, Visayas, Palawan and Masbate have remained free from FMD since they were declared by the OIE as "FMD-free areas without vaccination."

So far, only Luzon has not gained the OIE clearance but Salacup stressed that DA is currently in the final phase of totaling eradicating FMD in the area.
"The last reported FMD outbreak was on
December 28, 2005 and since then we were able to maintain a zero-FMD scenario," he said.

Salacup said the government will submit an application to the OIE in January next year for the declaration of Luzon as FMD-free.

He said they expect the OIE to review the proposed application during its annual conference slated in May 2008 in Paris, France. If successful, he said FMD would be the second major livestock disease to be totally eradicated in the country after the clearing of
Rinderpest in 1972.

"We're hoping that we will finally get the OIE clearance next year so we can properly compete in the expanding global market of pork meat," he added.