Wider ban on poultry imports sought

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    The Department of Agriculture (DA) said the ban on chicken imports from Brazil stays even as various groups urged for a wider ban to include other countries.

    The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has asked Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) to submit documents stating the status of its containment of the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on its poultry industry.

    These include documents on COVID-19 prevention and control procedures in chicken processing facilities in Brazil as well as the infection rate in these facilities’ workers.

    Specifically, BAI asked for the following: list of foreign meat establishments (FMEs) exporting to the Philippines which reported COVID-19 cases since March 2020; copies of national guidelines on the control and prevention of COVID-19 cases in meat establishments; procedures or protocols in monitoring COVID-19 cases in meat facilities; certified copies of food safety manuals (particularly on their protocol for FMEs that are reported banned by China; current rate of COVID testing on meat establishment workers; and revised guidelines for the production, packaging and storage of poultry mechanically deboned meat (MDM).

    In a letter to MAPA chief veterinary officer Geraldo Marcos de Moraes, BAI director Ronnie Domingo said the Philippines is committed to resolving the issue and that the ban on Brazilian chicken products was issued as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety and health of Filipino consumers.

    “The Philippines greatly values its long-standing harmonious relations with Brazil. We look forward to your prompt response,” Domingo said in the letter.

    The DA’s decision was supported by various agricultural stakeholders led by the Philippine Association of Feed Milers Inc. which said a wider ban is needed to assure the health of consumers.

    “We jointly support the action of the DA to temporarily ban the importation of chicken from Brazil. Though we appreciate this move by the agriculture department as an effective preventive measure to ensure the safety of the Filipino people and the other nationals who reside in our country, we, as an industry urges government to have a more aggressive stand and move for the temporary banning of all imported chicken until the world is able to cross this pandemic,” the joint statement said.

    Other groups which signed the statement are United Broilers Raiser Association, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc., Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, National Federation of Hog Farmers, Philippine Eggboard Association, Philippine Maize Federation, among others.

    The groups said the local livestock and chicken industries can supply the meat processors.

    “All food stakeholders should unite and support fellow local companies by buying their local produce and thus feeding our countrymen an all Filipino product from end to end…

    Simultaneously, not only that we would be able to promote public safety but also engender local employment and uphold the micro, small and medium enterprises,” the statement said.

    Meat processors warned of a 10 to 14-percent increase in the prices of canned meat products following the ban on imported poultry and mechanically-deboned materials MDM from Brazil.

    Brazil currently has the world’s second-worst COVID-19 outbreak, reporting more than 3.2 million cases and more than 105,000 deaths, since the start of the pandemic.