BEEF AND CATTLE imports from the UK have been banned temporarily due to an outbreak of mad cow disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Agriculture Memorandum Order No. 60, signed on Oct. 4, banned the processing, evaluation, and issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs) of meat and meat by products derived from cattle, including live cattle, from the UK after the detection of classical BSE. 

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said UK veterinary authorities on Sept. 17 submitted a report to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that confirmed a BSE outbreak in Somerset, a county in the southwest of England.  

Beef products from an animal suffering from BSE can lead to the development in humans of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

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

“All previously approved SPSICs which were not yet in transit/loaded/accepted unto port after the official communication of this order to the British authorities are hereby revoked.”

Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. Vice-President Jerome D. Ong told BusinessWorld via mobile phone that classical BSE “poses very high risk to both animal and human health. The UK’s share of our beef imports is about 4%, mostly beef fat.”  

The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) estimates that beef imports from the UK as of the end of August have totaled 4,429.46 metric tons (MT), or 3.96% of all beef imports.

Mr. Ong said the DA and BAI should lift the ban on beef imports from Brazil.

The DA issued Memorandum Order No. 54 on Sept. 16 that banned the import of Brazilian beef due to an outbreak of atypical BSE.  

“They should lift the import ban because it involves only atypical BSE which, according to experts and the OIE, does not really affect animals and humans. Brazil beef accounts for up to 70% of the raw material requirements of some local processors,” Mr. Ong said.

The BAI estimates that Brazilian beef imports as of Aug. 31 amounted to 36,371.45 MT, or 32.51% of all beef imports. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave