Customs agents assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) are on alert against the possible entry of poultry products from Brazil, following a recently ordered ban by the Department of Agriculture (DA).
The ban came after shipments of chicken wings from Latin American countries were found positive for coronavirus disease.
"In furtherance with the standing order of Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero to strengthen border control in all ports amidst continuing threats of COVID-19 virus, BOC-NAIA personnel are committed 24/7 to guard the country’s primary airport and its warehouses against attempts to import poultry products from Brazil in compliance to the latest advisory," said Customs NAIA district collector Carmelita Talusan.
Talusan's men are also monitoring the entry of meat infected with African swine fever.
Since January, the Port of NAIA has confiscated a total of 775.6 kilograms of meat products without permits, which arrived from countries affected by African swine fever.
Talusan said they will continue to guard against entry of illegal goods and importations that pose health risks and will ensure safeguards to protect Filipino consumers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported more than 3.1 million COVID-19 confirmed cases in Brazil and 103,026 deaths, with a significant number of cases among workers in meat establishments.
The DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and 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 importation of meat into the country is the health status of workers in compliance with good manufacturing practices (GMP).
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 importation of chicken meat is imposed.
The DA assures the public that chicken products currently in the Philippine market are safe to eat, and strongly urges 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, workers engaged in meat establishments, poultry dressing plants, slaughterhouses, and meat processing plants, are required to report to the DOH any unusual illnesses,” it added.
As part of national efforts to control COVID-19, the DA strongly recommends that poultry farm and slaughterhouse owners consult their respective licensed veterinarians to observe farm biosafety and biosecurity measures.
The NMIS has issued guidelines and is monitoring the implementation of strategies to prevent and control the transmission of COVID-19 in meat establishments.