The Philippines has slapped a temporary import ban on Brazilian beef products, including live cattle, after the Latin American country reported an outbreak of Atypical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or Mad Cow disease a few weeks ago.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar issued on Thursday Memorandum Order (MO) 54 authorizing the temporary ban on the importation of live cattle, meat and meat products derived from cattle from Brazil.

Dar ordered the temporary import ban to protect the country’s cattle population as well as Filipino consumers due to history of Mad Cow disease affecting humans.

“BSE is a zoonotic disease and there are studies showing that the atypical type of BSE or Mad Cow disease may pose a risk to consumers due to BSE’s assumed link with the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease [vCJD] in humans,” Dar said in his order.

With the order, the Bureau of Animal Industry has suspended the processing, evaluation of the application and issuance of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Import Clearance for Brazilian beef imports.

“All shipments in transit/loaded/accepted unto port before the official communication of this order to the Brazilian authorities shall be allowed provided the slaughter and production date is on or before August 31, 2021,” Dar said in the order.

Dar has also ordered veterinary quarantine officers to conduct a “more rigorous and tight inspection” on all arrivals of meat and meat by-products derived from cattle including live cattle.

Impact of ban

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) on Friday cautioned that the temporary blanket ban on Brazilian beef products would result in increase in the retail prices of processed goods since the industry will be forced to utilize more expensive raw material from countries like Australia and the United States.

“With the ban, meat processors will be forced to use higher priced beef from suppliers such as Australia, Ireland and the US,” the group said in a news statement.

“Hence, the increased cost of beef raw material for processed meats will be passed on to consumers in terms of higher prices, while the ban on Brazilian beef is in effect,” the group added.

PAMPI noted that Brazil is the country’s top source of beef supply as the Latin American country accounts for 40 percent of total import volume annually.

“It has a large share of the market because Brazilian beef is priced much lower compared to beef products from other countries. We are concerned about the implications of the ban because as far as we know, it is only the Philippines which imposed such ban,” PAMPI added.

PAMPI pointed out that Brazil is also one of the country’s major source of raw materials for meat processed products. Industry sources say the processed meat products that could see a spike in prices are canned corned beef, hot dogs, longganisa, burger patties and beef tapa.