>CEBU CITY, Cebu – The Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (CanCham) is strongly urging the Philippine government to implement an effective regulatory framework on the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s Administrative Order (AO)-22 regarding frozen meat, as this affects the sales of frozen meat importers. The CanCham recently issued a statement in relation to concerns raised by local meat producers in Cebu and other provinces, where the latter alleged that frozen meat in wet markets are believed to be unhealthy “because when thawed, moisture in the frozen meat encourages quicker growth of bacteria.” The chamber said there has been no confirmation that AO-22 responds to a science-based conclusion that frozen meat poses a health risk to consumers. “We strongly support essential and effective measures ensuring the production, transportation, packaging and wholesale/retail selling of both frozen and warm meat in the Philippines, regardless of whether this is imported or local, so that the health of consumers is protected,” the CanCham’s position paper read. Last December 12, 2010, the DA issued AO-22, imposing stricter sanitary measures on frozen meat products, and ordering the setting up of more cold chain systems for quality control.
In an interview, CanCham President Julian Payne said that while members of the chamber strongly support effective measures on frozen meat sales, they believe it is important for Cebu consumers, meat importers and restaurants that the same health standards apply to warm meat. “Such health standards should not increase the prices for consumers; and government authorities and the amended AO should ensure these two objectives are met,” said Payne who was in Cebu recently for the opening of the chamber’s first regional office outside Manila. According to the CanCham statement, Canada’s health regulation of the meat it exports is among the most stringent in the world and is highly regarded globally. The Philippines is reported to be one of the major importers of Canadian frozen pork because of its high health safety standards and compliance with export regulations for frozen meat. The country is also reported to prefer the quality and nutritional value of Canadian meat for consumers as well as its competitive prices.