Lawmakers seek review of DA’s order on meat importation

LAWMAKERS are calling for a congressional inquiry into the Department of Agriculture order imposing rules and regulations on the hygienic handling of refrigerated meats in the markets.

Reps. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. (Party-list, Abante Mindanao) and Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), authors of House Resolution 2283, want  to determine whether imported frozen and local frozen meats undergo the same quality inspections with no singling out of any country or product.

Rodriguez said there is a need for an investigation into AO 22 as the Meat Importers and Traders Associations (MITA) had complained that the order had been issued without public consultation.

Rodriguez said AO 22 requires the use of freezers and chillers in wet markets where the frozen meat could be stored in view of the stand of both the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) that contamination would set in if the imported meat products are sold under the same conditions as warm meat.

However, Rodriguez said the American Chamber of Commerce, in a letter to the Department of Agriculture, said there are numerous studies by technical authorities demonstrating that there is no technical justification for different treatment of freshly slaughtered and frozen and thawed meat.

Rodriguez said there have been reports that NMIS have been confiscating meat from traders, citing AO22 as the reason.

According to MITA, the seized meat products were legally imported, safe and should not have been restricted from the market place.

“MITA has also challenged the AO as being unfair since it requires them to store their meat and meat products in a chiller or freezer while local meat dealers are not obliged to do so,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said he will propose amendments to AO22 that could provide a win-win situation for both the local meat producers and the meat importers.

“These include setting the temperature for storing of frozen, chilled and thawed meat products as well as requiring chillers or chest coolers instead of freezers which are more accessible to the local meat vendors who, more often than not, do not have the resources to purchase freezers,” Rodriguez said.

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