DA issues guidelines as precautionary measure against COVID-19
(Eagle News) — The Department of Agriculture has imposed a “temporary ban” on the importation of poultry meat from Brazil after several reports that said that SARS-COV-2 was detected on chicken wings imported from that country.
It also asked all meat processing plants in the country and slaughterhouses to make sure that the meat products they process are free from COVID-19, and that all workers involved in these operations have no “unusual sickness.”
The DA likewise asked the public to make sure that meat products they buy have National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) seal of approval.
Agriculture Secretary WIlliam Dar said that the temporary ban on poultry products from Brazil was a precautionary measure,
In a memorandum order signed on Aug. 14, Dar cited Section 10 of Republic Act 10611, or the Food Safety Act of 2013. This h stated 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, the causative agent of COVID-19, was detected on chicken wings imported from Brazil, during a screening conducted in Longgang District of Shenzhen, in China,” the DA said.
It cited a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) that said that a a significant number of cases in Brazil were among workers in meat establishments.
Brazil currently has over 3.2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases with more than 106,000. It is the second country with the most COVID-19 cases and deaths after the United States.
-DA monitoring COVID-19 related outbreaks in foreign meat establistments-
The agriculture department said that its Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) had 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).
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).
The department said that it is strictly monitoring foreign meat establishments to make sure that these would not import meat contaminated with any forms of virus, including SARS-COV2 which is the virus that causes COVID-19.
“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),” it said.
-China report, guidelines cited-
It said that the temporary ban on chicken meat imports is in consideration of reports from China and “in compliance with the country’s Food Safety Act to regulate food business operators and safeguard Filipino consumers.”
The National Health Commission of China had earlier issued guidelines regarding coronavirus control guidelines for meat processing companies, including demanding imported livestock and poultry products should be virus-free before these could be processed in Chinese plants.
“Working places including meat slaughtering, cutting, storing and packing (plants) are mostly closed and densely populated environments with a low temperature, where the risk of virus-spreading is quite high,” the NHC said in another statement on its website.
China had asked its meat processors to regularly and thoroughly clean and sterilize all their working units, including farms, slaughterhouses, packing plants and cold storage.
China had also limited animal imports, saying that animals to be slaughtered in China should come from non-COVID-19 epidemic areas.
-DA urges workers in meat plants to report to DOH any unusual sickness-
Similarly, the DA is also requiring workers engaged in meat establishments, poultry dressing plants, slaughterhouses and meat processing plants to report to the Department of Health any “unusual sickness” since this is a COVID-19 issue related to public health.
While it assures that current chicken meat products in the country are safe to eat, it is encouraging the public to make sure meat products they buy have been inspected and passed inspection from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).
“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,” it said.
“As part of national efforts to control COVID-19, the DA strongly recommends that poultry farm and slaughterhouse owners should consult their respective licensed veterinarians to observe farm biosafety and biosecurity measures,” a DA statement said.
“The NMIS has issued guidelines and is monitoring the implementation of strategies to prevent and control the transmission of COVID-19 in meat establishments,” it said.
“For more information, please contact: DA-BAI Director Ronnie Domingo, 09399155562; or DA-NMIS Director Reildrin G. Morales, 09399325280,” it further urged.
(Eagle News Service)