Government agencies are monitoring and checking the safety of meat products, as well as the supply of “noche buena” items in time for the Christmas season.
The Department of Trade and Industry in the Cordillera Administrative Region (DTI-CAR) is jointly conducting the inspections with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) as well as local government units starting Thursday.
“We have instructed our provincial offices that starting Thursday and Friday, they monitor noche buena items including Christmas lights. We want to make sure that while we are declared ASF-(African swine fever) free region, we want to make sure, we will remain as such,” said Myrna Pablo, DTI-CAR regional director.
The DA and the NMIS have jurisdictions over fresh meat and slaughterhouses while the DTI on processed meat products, both canned and packed.
Pablo said checkpoints have been established by the DA at entry points leading to the provinces to check on the live animals and processed meat.
Several LGUs such as Abra, Benguet, and Sagada town in Mountain Province have issued executive orders banning the entry of live hogs and processed meat in their respective jurisdictions as a preventive measure.
Groceries and supermarkets, including wet markets that sell pork-based products for noche buena, will be inspected weekly, Pablo said.
“We are given guidelines to look at, to make sure that the products our consumers buy are safe,” Pablo said.
Ham, processed food, and other canned goods are among the top-selling items served or given away during the Christmas season.
Pablo said shops that sell meat and meat-based processed items should post in their establishment an NMIS certification and accreditation.
Buy noche buena items early
Pablo said the DTI central office had issued on October 31 a new suggested retail price (SRP) which shows an increase in prices between 3 to a maximum of 10 percent.
“Our advice, if you have already your money, slowly buy the items one by one because the prices will not decrease but we are watching the SRP. Store them until your preparation in December,” she said.
She said the increase was unavoidable considering the increase in the cost of raw materials and production, which was the reason for the DTI’s approval to the request of the manufacturers to hike prices.
She reminded consumers to be smart buyers by canvassing and comparing the prices of items.
Aside from noche buena items, Pablo said prices of prime commodities are also monitored.
“Usually it’s a two-week inventory of the basic commodities but for noche buena items, they store complete supply that would last for the whole Christmas season. (PNA)