Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI), one of the largest groups of meat processing companies in the country, fear that there might be a shortage of mechanically deboned meat (MDM) of chicken following the decision of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to temporarily ban the importation of poultry meat from Brazil.
PAMPI is particularly appealing for DA to exempt MDM chicken on the poultry meat import ban it issued against Brazil, following reports that the Latin American country has been shutting down meat establishments due to rising COVID-19 cases among meat workers as well as the pronouncement of China that it detected the virus from the surface of some frozen chicken wings it imported from Brazil.
According to PAMPI, this could affect their supply of MDM chicken, which they use as a raw material for their meat products.
For his part, Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Director Ronnie Domingo assured that the Philippines will not have a shortage of poultry meat.
On MDM chicken, which the Philippines don’t necessarily produce amid lack of facilities, Domingo said the government will review the documents it asked from Brazilian meat producers to ensure that the products they are exporting to the Philippines are safe from COVID-19 virus.
“For now, all the poultry meat products are banned. We will study the documents that Brazil will send to us. There’s a TWG [technical working group] who will decide on this,” Domingo said.
The other day, Ricardo Santin, Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA) Chief Executive Officer, said the decision of Agriculture Secretary William Dar to temporarily suspend the importation of poultry meat from Brazil has “no basis” and is not “science-based”.
“It is a pity that the Philippines took this action,” Santin said. “I hope they change their idea or we could ask for some reasonable explanation on WTO [World Trade Organization]”.
ABPA is the political and institutional representative of poultry and pork production in Brazil, one of the largest food producing countries in the world. The organization is composed of 140 companies and entities from the various poultry and swine farming communities in Brazil.
Domingo said Santin’s reaction is already expected since they will really be affected by the ban.
However, he said Brazilian meat producers should understand that the Philippine government has to protect the local meat industry as well as its consumers.
For issuing the order, Dar cited the Section 10 of Republic Act 10611, or the Food Safety Act of 2013, which said that precautionary measures shall be adopted in specific circumstances when the available relevant information use for in risk assessment is still insufficient.
The Philippines is currently one of the biggest markets for Brazilian poultry and pork meat.
During the first half of this year, the Philippines imported a total of 64.2 million kilos of all types of meat from Brazil. Of this, 43.27 million kilos are chicken meat.
The World Health Organization (WHO) already said before that there is no evidence to support transmission of the COVID-19 virus associated with food.