February 8, 2023

Juan Kabayan

All the News All the Time

Ban imposed on chicken imports

(UPDATE) THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has temporarily banned the importation of chicken and other poultry products from Japan, Hungary and California in the United States amid the threats of bird flu.

In separate memorandum orders, Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban said the ban covers domestic and wild birds and related products, including poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs and semen.

Panganiban said that based on the reports submitted by the Japan Ministry of Agriculture to the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) last November 1, there were outbreaks of high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) virus in Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture and Atsu.

“There is a need to prevent the entry of HPAI virus to protect the health of the local poultry population,” Domingo said in his Memorandum Order 69.

In Hungary, HPAI virus was recorded in Kiskunmajsa and Bugac, and Bacs-Kiskun affecting domestic birds.

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Panganiban said a similar HPAI outbreak was reported in California.

Panganiban ordered the suspension of processing and issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) import clearance covered by the ban.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), avian influenza is a highly pathogenic and deadly strain for poultries.

While the risk of the virus spreading to people is low, the CDC emphasizes the need to exercise caution.

This includes the avoidance of direct contact with birds, proper handling and cooking of poultry, restricting travel to avian influenza-affected areas, getting vaccinated for seasonal flu, and reporting cases of infected.

The selective ban on chicken imports is one of the restrictions on imported food items clamped down by the government.

On Friday, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) defended its decision to ban the sale of frozen pampano and salmon amid criticisms that the ban is anti-poor.

In a radio interview, BFAR spokesman Nazzer Briguera said the prohibition on imported fish aims to protect the local fisheries production.

“The effort to regulate imported frozen fish products aims to protect our local fishermen,” Briguera said.

He added that Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 195 issued in 1999 limits the importation of fish to institutional buyers such as hotels restaurants and canneries.

“FAO 195 states that imported frozen fish should not be diverted to the wet markets. Apparently, there is an unauthorized diversion of fish products in the markets,” he said.

Consumers reacted to the ban on the sale of imported pampano and salmon in wet markets, saying only the rich and those who can afford to dine in restaurants and hotels have access to the fish products.

Briguera said other imported frozen fish products are also covered by the campaign.

On Thursday, BFAR Assistant Director for Administrative and Other Support Services Zaldy Perez said that an onsite inspection at the Commonwealth Market in Quezon City revealed that frozen imported pampano, salmon and squid were being sold there.

Perez said that BFAR will start its crackdown on imported fish on December 4, after the information campaign in at least 21 wet markets in Metro Manila.

Fish vendors must present permits to prove they are allowed to sell round scad, bigeye scad, mackerel, bonito and moonfish.

The fish varieties are part of the 25,000 metric tons of imported fish allowed by the Department of Agriculture following the close of the local fishing season from Nov. 1, 2022, to Jan. 31, 2023.