Belmonte: No sanctions for supermarkets with ASF-tainted meats
MANILA, Philippines – Following the discovery of meats infected by African swine fever (ASF) in two local supermarkets, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said she will not be imposing sanctions on the supermarkets because they acted "in good faith."
One of the supermarkets where ASF-tainted meats were recently found is SM Cherry along Congressional Avenue. The second supermarket was not named due to the ongoing investigation.
The investigation regarding the ASF-tainted meats is ongoing, but Belmonte said the supermarkets had complete documentation of the meats, including certification from the National Meat Inspection Service stating that the meats were ASF-free.
In a press conference on Friday, January 10, Belmonte said that the SM Cherry management was cooperative in the process of the investigation and thus will no longer be facing sanctions.
"Nung sinabing, pahingi ng samples, nagbigay naman sila ng samples. Pagkatapos nung sinabing, ay positive 'yung samples ninyo, ipapapadlock namin 'yung freezers niyo, pumayag naman sila. Tapos nung sinabi naming okay kailangan naming idispose 'yung buong inventory niyo, pumayag din sila. So sa ganun klase pa bang operation, ay ipapakulong pa ba natin sila? Tingin ko, hindi na," Belmonte said.
(When they were asked for samples, they provided them. When they were told that the samples were ASF-positive and that their freezers will be padlocked, they complied. And when they were told to dispose their whole inventory, they also obliged. Should that kind of operation be followed with imprisonment? I don't think so.)
Belmonte also urged supermarkets to come forward and cooperate with the city government if they suspect that their meats may be infected.
"Hindi kayo kriminal dahil dumating sa inyo mula sa supplier ninyo ay ASF-tainted. Hindi kayo kriminal niyan. Kriminal kayo, 'pag tinago ninyo sa amin (You are not criminals because you received ASF-tainted meats from your supplier. You would be a criminal if you kept it from us)," Belmonte said.
The mayor gave assurances that the meats did not come from Quezon City, as the viral disease was already contained in the city since November 2019.
What next? Belmonte is set to pass an executive order to address the issue of ASF-tainted meats entering supermarkets.
The executive order will include protocols for both supermarkets and the city government with regards to inspection and validation of meats, as well as disposal and disinfection of meats found to be infected.
The draft of the executive order will be finalized by January 15. – Rappler.com