Philippines reopens doors to Brazilian meat imports
MANILA -The Department of Agriculture (DA) lifted the temporary ban on cattle and meat products imports from Brazil nearly a week after imposing the import moratorium amid concerns over mad cow disease.
In a memorandum order, the agency said Brazil had contained the spread of mad cow disease and no additional outbreak had been recorded after March 3.“Upon careful evaluation of the submitted documents and relevant information, none of the products from the case of BSE (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy) has entered the production system nor has been exported to the Philippines,” said the order dated March 28.
“[Brazil’s] competent authorities also provided evidence to show that food safety measures are in place in different accredited FMEs (foreign meat establishments) and are equivalent to the guidelines established by the Philippines.”
To recall, the DA imposed a temporary import ban covering live cattle, meat and meat products as well as bovine processed animal protein and semen derived from Brazilian cattle.
Based on its March 22 memo, Brazilian authorities informed the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) last Jan. 18 of a BSE outbreak that had affected domestic cattle in Maraba, a municipality in the northern state of Para.
This was to avert the spread of mad cow disease, which has been associated with the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a degenerative brain disorder that leads to dementia and death. It can be transmitted through contaminated meat.
“As a country recognized in WOAH with negligible BSE risk, the acceptance of all in transit and incoming shipments from Brazil may commence provided with verified equivalence from the Brazil Veterinary Authority,” the latest memo stated.
The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) said on Tuesday there was a miscommunication as a result of the DA’s importation ban that wasn’t supposed to take effect.
“It’s embarrassing because like China, Brazil [had] implemented a self-embargo. They already continued trade of Brazilian beef and then, here we are doing the opposite,” Pampi secretary Precious Chua-Yu said.
Pampi had appealed against the ban but the group of meat processors was “surprised” to learn the DA still pursued it.
“They were saying it will not be implemented anymore because Brazil has already reported that they have contained the outbreak,” said Chua-Yu, who is also the chief purchasing officer of Velfram Foods Corp. INQ