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PH no capacity to COVID test imported meat – DA

The Philippines has no capacity to test imported livestock products entering the country specifically for COVID-19, according to the agriculture department.

National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) Executive Director Rieldrin Morales admitted the government has no capacity to test livestock separately for COVID-19 from the existing quarantine protocols for agricultural imports following reports that Chinese authorities recently detected SARS-COV-2, the causative agent of the highly contagious virus, on chicken wings it imported from Brazil, the world’s top poultry meat supplier.

 As for the existing food safety protocols of the country, Morales said the government could always incinerate unwanted food items such as smuggled or tainted imports.

 As a precautionary measure, Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Friday imposed a temporary ban on the importation of poultry meat from Brazil.      

During the first half of this year, the Philippines imported 43.27 million kilos of chicken from the Latin American country.

 According to Morales, the DA issued the ban in the context that a lot of workers in Brazil’s meat establishments may have contracted the virus and it’s not necessarily because food items like frozen chicken could be a direct carrier of the virus.

“FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations] and WHO [World Health Organization] already provided technical guidance saying that COVID-19 transmission through bio food items like meat is ‘zero to negligible’,” Morales said.

 “Now, we are saying that the basis of our ban is we just want to find out the health status of workers in those foreign meat establishments. We are not concerned that your products can transmit the virus. We are concerned about your workers if they have the virus,” he added.

  Business Bulletin already reached out to some Brazilian meat exporters to the Philippines, but no one has replied yet as of posting time. 

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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