MANILA -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered the recall and seizure of imported pork meat products in the market as these may be contaminated with African swine fever (ASF).

In its Memorandum 2019-048 released on Monday, the FDA directed all importers, distributors, retail outlets, and other dealers "to immediately recall all pork meat products imported from countries suspected to be affected by ASF virus."

"Food business operators importing, distributing, offering for sale and/or donating these banned products shall be prosecuted for violation of the FDA Act of 2009, the Food Safety Act of 2013, and other relevant laws, rules and regulations on food safety," it added.

The FDA has asked the assistance of the Philippine National Police (PNP), local government units (LGUs), and other government agencies in the recall and seizure of these pork meat products in the market.

Health Undersecretary and FDA OIC Director-General Rolando Enrique D. Domingo also warned the public on the purchase and consumption of processed pork meat products from countries affected by the dreaded ASF.

The FDA also expanded the temporary ban on the importation, distribution, and sale of all processed pork meat products coming from these16 countries -- China, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zambia, South Africa, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Mongolia, Moldova, and Belgium.

The ASF, as defined by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), is a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease of pigs, warthogs, European wild boar, and American wild pigs. It is caused by DNA virus of the Asfarviridae family which causes high fever, loss of appetite, hemorrhages in the skin and internal organs, and death in 2-10 days of the affected pigs.

Although it is not considered as a human health threat, Domingo advised the public to exercise "extreme caution" in purchasing and consuming processed pork meat products which are sourced from countries other than the 16 countries mentioned and are registered with the FDA.

Currently, he said the FDA does not allow the registration of processed pork meat products coming from these ASF infected countries.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel "Manny" Piñol earlier urged the FDA to remove pork meat products such as Ma Ling from the market as these may be contaminated with ASF.

He noted the move was to ensure that the dreaded disease does not penetrate the country and possibly destroy the PHP200-billion hog industry.

Piñol also ordered quarantine officers of the Bureau of Animal Industry to implement stricter measures on the entry of pork meat products.

He also reiterated his warning to incoming passengers that “bringing in meat and other agricultural products without the necessary permit, especially those coming from ASF-affected countries", could get them slapped with a fine of up to PHP200,000. (PNA)