By Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson
FOOD SAFETY advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan says the import ban on porcine processed animal protein (PAP) from Italy, imposed during the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak, must be lifted to control fish feed prices.
PAP, a key raw material in the production of aquaculture feed, is safe because its manufacture in Italy is regulated by European Union rules.
“PAP is made from food-grade meat, including bone, skin and blood, and falls under the European Union’s Category 3 meat classification, meaning it comes from unharmed animals,” said Asis G. Perez, Tugon Kabuhayan manager.
Italy accounts for 70% of the 150,000 metric tonnes of PAP imports shipped by the animal feed industry, he said.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) banned imports of PAP this year after a confirmed case of African swine fever emerged in Italy.
Perez said the DA’s blanket ban on pork products from Italy should be changed to exempt imports of PAPs, as they pose no threat to the domestic pork industry.
“To make PAP powder, the mixture of meat and other animal parts is treated at 130°C, almost double the 70°C at which the African swine fever virus is killed. During the feed manufacturing process, the PAP is then ‘cooked’ at temperatures up to 200°C to make floating fish feed,” he said.
Domestic manufacturers produce about 1.6 million metric tons of feed for the aquaculture industry, of which the output of 800,000 metric tons of fish serves about 40 percent of annual fish consumption, the group said.
The high protein content found in PAP compared to other protein sources allows for higher feed conversion and reduces water pollution from aquaculture.
Mr Perez said the import ban could increase the price of fish sold in the market.
“The biggest impact of the ban on imported PAPs from Italy is the higher cost of feed for aquaculture. Every P1.00 of additional feed cost roughly translates to more P2.00 per kilo of fish, because a fish farmer needs two kilos of feed for a fish to grow to one kilo,” he said. declared.
PAP contains up to 90% protein, which is higher than the levels provided by other protein sources like vegetable or fish meal. Low protein means higher amounts of feed are needed to grow fish to a fishable size, leading to increased fish effluent that pollutes the water, Tugon Kabuhayan said.
The group said the country has been using porcine PAP since 2008 due to insufficient domestic supplies of fishmeal or processed fish scraps.
“We understand that the pork industry needs to be protected. But a blanket ban on PAPs imported from Italy because of a single wild boar infected with African swine fever is not supported by science. And if there is no solid scientific basis, why make the aquaculture industry suffer and therefore the fish consumers? ” he added.