The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted 775.6 kilograms of banned meat and meat products at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from January to June this year amid fears of a new strain of African Swine Flu called G4.
READ: China pork banned; alert up
“The meat and meat products that were confiscated include 268.2 kilograms of pork, 106.4 kilograms of beef, 298.2 kilograms of poultry, and 102 kilograms of other kinds of meat, which arrived without permits and health clearance, and were brought in through NAIA from ASF-infected countries,” the BOC said in a statement Saturday.
The Port of NAIA under the supervision of District Collector Carmelita Talusan said the seized products were without sanitary and phytosanitary clearances for the first six months of the year.
Customs said importation of pork and pork-based products, particularly from China, are temporarily banned due to reported cases of the new G4 strain of ASF.
All the items were turned over to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) for quarantine and immediate disposal to prevent the spread of the dangerous virus to local health and to the food industry.
Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero directed BOC NAIA personnel manning the Passenger Area and Air Cargo Warehouses to remain on alert against the possible entry of contaminated meat products.
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“The agency is consistent in protecting the local industry from any possible swine and agricultural epidemic and supports the directive of President Duterte to safeguard the country’s borders,” Guerrero said.
The Customs NAIA branch assured it will continuously support the government’s campaign to prevent the entry of contaminated meat, especially with the emergence of a news strain of swine flu virus.
Authorities said pork and chicken from China and other affected countries are already banned because of foot and mouth disease and bird flu, but the new swine flu called G4, genetically descended from H1N1, could cause another pandemic while the country is still grappling with the novel coronavirus.
Talusan airport frontliners manning the Passenger Area and Air Cargo Warehouses remain on alert against the possible entry of “hot meat.”
Guerrero said earlier his agency has been closely monitoring agricultural and other food items from China to ensure that proper procedures are followed to guarantee the safety of consumers and prevent the entry of food that may contain diseases.
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He said imported foods such as meat products undergo initial examination by the Department of Agriculture and Customs examiners before they are released from the ports.
“After this initial examination, the reefer container is sealed by BAI for 100 percent examination by the National Meat Inspection Service in its accredited storage warehouse,” he said.
The deadly COVID-19 pandemic, which has now infected more than 10 million people worldwide, first emerged in China and is thought to have originated in bats and jumped to humans through an unknown intermediary animal.
The new swine flu strain found in China, according to the study published Monday in the US science journal PNAS, had “all the essential hallmarks” to infect humans and raised fears over another potential pandemic.