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Sniff dogs fail airport dry run for meat in bags.

THE deployment of sniff dogs in airports nationwide to help prevent the entry of swine flu-contaminated meat on passengers' luggage was pushed back by two weeks as a recent dry run showed that canines hired by the Department of Agriculture (DA) failed to detect beef and processed pork products in luggages.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Pinol said the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) conducted its first dry run for the meat-sniffing dogs on April 30 in Naia terminals.

However, Pinol added that BAI OIC-Director Ronnie Domingo informed him that the meat-sniffing dogs were able to detect frozen pork in a bag. Nonetheless, they failed to detect beef and processed pork in other luggages.

Furthermore, the dogs also failed to sniff meat products inside luggages and bags in the bag carousel.

The agriculture chief said the dog handlers informed them that the canines would be retrained again for two weeks to improve their sniffing capabilities. Another dry run in airports is expected to be conduced after two weeks.

Nonetheless, Pinol said the DA-BAI would have to deploy the meat-sniffing dogs within the month to strengthen the government's biosecurity measures against African swine fever (ASF).

'We need to deploy them this month. We can't be complacent,' he told the BusinessMirror.

The deployment of meat-sniffing dogs is seen as a more convenient and cheaper way to detect illegal meat products brought into the country by tourists and returning overseas Filipinos.

The DA-BAI is set to deploy an initial 15 meat-sniffing dogs followed by an additional 30 canines.

The DA is spending at least P27 million for the 15 meat-sniffing dogs, including the payment for their handlers, for one year.

The United Nations's Food and Agriculture Organization and the DA-BAI have identified smuggled meat products, especially by tourists, as high-risk carriers of the dreaded ASF virus that has the potential of wiping out the whole local hog industry. The virus is not harmful to humans.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:May 2, 2019
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