THE Trade department is asking for a ban on poultry products from Brazil to be lifted, after meat processors said such a ban could lead to food shortages.

The Philippines had imposed a temporary ban after China reported that it found traces of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in products from Brazil.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) in its order also cited the rising number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Brazil, which included workers at meat packing facilities.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said that he has written to the DA to ask for a lifting of the ban, adding that there is no scientific evidence that the products transmit disease.

Kung hindi, ma-te-threaten po ang ating food supply, lalo na iyong galing dito sa mga meat processors na isang malaking food category na binibili po ng ating mga kababayan (Our food supply could be under threat, particularly those that according to our meat processors are in high demand),” he said in a Laging Handa briefing Monday.

He said the department will also look at the ban’s possible impact on pricing, noting that Brazilian meats are cost-competitive.

Delikado itong nangyayari ngayon in the sense na pwedeng magtaas din iyong cost ng raw material na iyon. At siyempre kapag nangyari iyan hihingi ng pagtaas ng presyo ang mga meat processors (The situation is very sensitive because raw material prices could rise, which could lead meat processors to request higher retail prices),” he said.

“But we will not automatically give it. In other words kailangang pag-aralan iyong cost impact. Pero sinasabi natin may impact ito sa presyo kapag hindi na-solve itong problema na ito (We’ll need to study the cost impact. But costs will definitely rise if we don’t resolve this problem).”

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. has been asking the DA to lift the ban, saying there could be a shortage of mechanically deboned meat which could lead to an increase in canned goods prices.

The Bureau of Animal Industry earlier this month said that there is no shortage of poultry products in the Philippines as it continues to import from other countries.

Brazilian chicken imports account for around 15% of all such imports, the bureau said.

The World Health Organization said there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through the food chain. — Jenina P. Ibañez