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Government crafting standards for slaughtering rabbits

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The government is developing national standards for slaughtering rabbits as part of its efforts to boost the domestic production of rabbit meat, which it considers as an alternative to pork.

The Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS) has started consultations on the draft Philippine National Standard (PNS) on rabbit slaughtering practices, which will be scrutinized by the public and private stakeholders.

BAFS is an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA) mandated to “formulate and enforce standards of quality in the processing, preservation, packaging, labeling, importation, exportation, distribution and advertising of agricultural and fisheries products.”

“On August 10, 2021, a consultation on the initial draft PNS was aimed at gathering technical and commercial information on the slaughtering practices for rabbit,” BAFS said in a recent statement.

“The consultation, conducted virtually, [had] 23 relevant stakeholders from government agencies, academe, research institutions, and private sectors [as participants].”

BAFS said a technical working group (TWG) has been created, composed of  representatives from regulatory agencies, academe, research institutions, and a private sector organization to oversee the crafting of the PNS. The TWG will meet next month to deliberate on the comments and information gathered from the initial consultation to craft a working draft standard.

“The working draft standard is expected to undergo another final stakeholder consultation and a series of TWG meetings before it is finalized and subsequently endorsed to the DA Secretary for approval by the 2nd quarter of 2022,” it said.

BAFS said the crafting of the PNS on rabbit meat slaughtering stemmed from an agreement forged between the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the Association of Rabbit Meat Producers Inc. (ARaMP) last year.

BAI and ARaMP noted that standards related to rabbit production must be developed to support the development of the industry.

“The objective is to promote rabbit meat as an alternative source of protein after the swine industry was devastated by the African swine fever [ASF],” BAFS said.

In a December 2020 meeting with BAI and ARaMP, BAFS said it was agreed that a PNS on the slaughtering practices should be developed first. BAFS included the PNS on rabbit slaughtering in its priority list for standardization this year.

Citing the United States Department of Agriculture, BAFS said rabbit meat is one of the healthiest meat products as it has low content of cholesterol, saturated fats, calories, sodium and can provide 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin B12.

“Rabbit is considered as a domestic pet and eating them is still perceived as taboo in the Philippines. However, consumption of rabbit meat can be a healthier alternative to other types of meat, and rabbit production for meat consumption can be profitable, when managed properly.”

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said rabbit meat could serve as an alternative to pork as the country grapples with high pork prices due to the devastation caused by ASF on hog farms. Dar noted that rabbit meat production has a shorter cycle than other livestock or poultry animals and could be cheaper than chicken meat.

“We are supportive of the rabbit industry. We are serious [in this]. Poultry is the number one option but rabbit meat is part of our basket of options,” he said in an interview last year.

Image courtesy of www.usda.gov

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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