SAO PAULO, Aug 6 (Reuters) - The Brazilian government must strengthen border controls to protect the country’s animal herds from disease, José Ribas Junior, a director at JBS SA’s processed foods unit Seara, said on Tuesday.
While there have been recent announcements of food apprehended with returning passengers at Brazilian airports, luggage continues to enter unchecked, Ribas said in a presentation at an industry event.
Imported food products may generate waste that could contaminate commercial herds and the food chain, he said, saying that airports are a point of entry for animal diseases including African swine fever.
“I hope we can learn from other people’s mistakes. Our airport barriers are ineffective and undersized,” Ribas said.
The Agriculture Ministry did not have an immediate comment on its oversight capabilities.
Following a trip to Chile two weeks ago, Ribas praised that country as a model in the region. He said Chile’s controls became stricter after an avian influenza crisis two years ago.
“It is impressive how they monitor you from the moment you arrive at the airport when you are in transit,” he said.
The global meat industry has been facing an outbreak of a deadly pig disease that continues to spread in Asia, causing an unprecedented supply imbalance.
According to Agrifatto, an agribusiness consultancy, African swine fever may have caused the culling of between 125 million and 200 million hogs in China, resulting in a potential output loss of about 20 million tonnes of pork.
The estimated output drop would represent 2.5 times the world’s entire pork trade in 2018, consultant Gustavo Machado of Agrifatto said on Tuesday.
Ribas said Brazil’s industry is taking precautions to keep problems at bay, for example by monitoring the wild boar population which could transmit diseases to the swine population.
He also expressed concern with an outbreak of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) in neighboring Uruguay, which could affect Brazil’s hogs if borders are not patrolled properly. Brazil is considered free of PRRS.
“We have wild boars crossing the border and they could bring in PRRS to Brazil,” Ribas said. (Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Leslie Adler)