SAFE TO EAT. Mayor Mario Patrick Barcenas (right) joins other officials and locals in a "food trip" on Thursday (March 16, 2023) aimed to show to the public that "lechon"(roast pig) and "chicharon" (pork rind) in Carcar City are safe for human consumption despite the detection of African swine fever (ASF) virus in its three barangays. Barcenas also cited the cooperation of the hog raisers in their intervention efforts to contain the highly infectious and severe hemorrhagic disease of pigs. (Photo courtesy of Atty. Eddie Barrita)

CEBU CITY – Vendors of "lechon" (roast pig) and "chicharon" (pork rind) in Carcar City on Thursday held a “food trip” to raise awareness that their products are safe to eat amid the detection of African swine fever (ASF) virus in three of its 15 barangays.

Mayor Mario Patrick Barcenas led officials in the activity to show locals and visitors that eating pork is safe, said ASF is not a zoonotic (infections that are spread between people and animals) disease that can affect humans.

Barcenas also cited that the cooperation of the hog raisers in the Barangays Can-asujan, Guadalupe and Poblacion 1 made the interventions done by the City Veterinary Office easier, especially in testing the suspected infected hogs.

He added that they will abide by the order of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia not to resort to the culling of pigs within the 500-meter radius, citing its negative impact on the livelihood of the hog raisers.

His comment came as the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Central Visayas said they will adhere to the national protocol in addressing the ASF crisis in the city, which is to perform “test and destroy” or “test and slaughter” of infected hogs.

Lawyer Eddie Barrita, city legal officer, however, clarified that not the entire area of the three barangays had pigs tested positive for the virus.

“In a barangay, only one sitio (sub-village) is affected, not the entire barangays,” Barrita told the Philippine News Agency in a phone interview, even as he lamented that all hog raisers, as well as pork meat, lechon, and chicharon vendors, were made to bear the consequences.

He said the city veterinarian, Dr. Mary Ann Gabuna, raised the issue that right after March 1, the day that alleged ASF was detected in the city, no mass casualty of pigs occurred. (PNA)