The Bureau of Customs will conduct mandatory inspections of all imported meat products from countries affected by African Swine Flu (ASF) to prevent the entry of the fatal animal disease into the Philippines.
Customs spokesperson Erastus Austria said the bureau had implemented strict measures in all sea and air ports of the country to prevent the feared outbreak of the ASF.
He said the BoC was on “high alert” after the Department of Agriculture banned the importation of pigs and pork products from Latvia, Poland, Romania, China, Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa, Zambia, Belgium, Russia, Ukraine, and Hungary due to reported spread of the ASF.
In a television interview, the customs official said the bureau was strictly monitoring and inspecting pork products that arrived in airports as well as seaports.
He said no pork products from swine flu-hit countries entered the Philippines since the ban was implemented.
Austria said that only meat products legally coming from Brazil, Canada, Germany, US, and Spain were allowed to enter the country but the bureau was still closely monitoring its origin.
The BoC vowed to ensure that smuggled pork products, such as ham, from affected countries, including China would not enter the Philippines.
According to the Bureau of Animal Industry, the Philippines imported a record-high of 691,462.564 metric tons due to the growing demand of Filipino consumers for processed-meat products in 2017. In 2018, the country imported only 4,099 metric tons of pork products.
The meat products came in through the Port of Manila, Manila International Container Port, Port of Cebu, and Port of Davao.
Austria said the bureau was still verifying the United Nations Comtrade Report which cited that China exported pork to the Philippines.
The BoC claimed that it would be quite impossible to import meat products from China because it was easy to detect the commodity.
Imported meat products usually contained in freezers and can be easily inspected, he said.
While swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans, sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred, a report said.