The Department of Agriculture (DA) has imposed a temporary ban on the import of poultry meat from Brazil after authorities in Shenzhen, China detected presence of SARS-COV-2 (the virus the causes COVID-19) in chicken wings imported from the South American country.
The ban was contained in a memorandum order that was signed on Friday by Agriculture Secretary William Dar, the DA said in a news release.
It cited Section 10 of Republic Act 10611, or the Food Safety Act of 2013, which states that in “specific circumstances when the available relevant information use for in risk assessment is insufficient to show that a certain type of food or food product does not pose a risk to consumer health, precautionary measures shall be adopted.”
Several online news agencies have reported that SARS-COV-2 was detected in chicken wings imported from Brazil during a screening conducted in Longgang District in Shenzhen, China.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 3,109,630 Covid-19 confirmed cases and 103,026 deaths in Brazil, with a significant number of cases among workers in meat establishments.
The DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) have been monitoring Covid-19-related outbreaks in foreign meat establishments (FMEs).
One of the primary considerations by the DA in the accreditation of FMEs for the import of meat is the health status of workers, in compliance with good manufacturing practices (GMP).
The DA said with the recent reports from China and in compliance with the country’s Food Safety Act to regulate food business operators and safeguard Filipino consumers, the temporary ban on the import of chicken meat was imposed.
It assured the public that chicken products currently in the Philippine market are safe to eat and strongly urged the public to verify sources of information with either BAI or the NMIS for proper guidance.
Since this is a Covid-19 issue related to public health, the DA said workers engaged in meat establishments, poultry dressing plants, slaughterhouses, and meat processing plants are required to report to the DOH any unusual sicknesses.
As part of national efforts to control Covid-19, the DA strongly recommended that poultry farms and slaughterhouse owners consult their respective licensed veterinarians to observe farm biosafety and biosecurity measures.
The NMIS has issued guidelines and has been monitoring the implementation of strategies to prevent and control the transmission of Covid-19 in meat establishments.