BEIRUT: Lebanon imposed a temporary ban on the import of cattle from the Brazilian state of Parana over fears of mad cow disease.
The ban, issued by Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan Wednesday, says the import of all livestock as well as meat – chilled and frozen – will be suspended until further notice. Lebanon imports a sizable percentage of its meat products and livestock from Brazil, a major producer.
The decision comes days after Egypt, the third-biggest importer of Brazilian meat, also suspended imports from Parana where a case of atypical mad cow disease had been confirmed in the world’s top exporter of meat.
South Africa, Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia have banned imports of Brazilian beef since local media reported the case earlier in December.
In a separate development, a lawmaker voiced concerns Wednesday over a potential health hazard resulting from a ship with diseased cows still docked at Beirut port.
“MP Assem Araji fears that the ship, Zaher, anchored at Beirut port will turn into a health and environmental disaster that could affect the port and Lebanese territorial waters,” a statement by the lawmaker’s office said.
Addressing the Agriculture Ministry, Araji asked: “What is the significance of leaving the ship docked at the port up until now with the knowledge that the cows are dying on the ship every day?”
Hajj Hasan said Friday that veterinarians had examined livestock on Zaher 5 and that they had found that some of the 79 cows on board the vessel “were suffering from symptoms of different types of diseases.”
The minister said the shipment was consequently banned, prompting the merchant to contest the decision.
Araji urged Hajj Hasan Wednesday to take a “decisive action” and demand the ship to leave Beirut port immediately.