Thai poultry ban prolonged

Related tags European union

The European Union confirmed yesterday a six-month ban on Thai
poultry imports because of the bird flu outbreak rampaging across
Asia. Fresh and frozen Thai poultry products will remain barred
from the economic bloc until 15 August 2004, the European
Commission said in a statement.

The announcement came after the Standing Committee for the Food Chain and Animal Health, which represents the EU Member States, agreed to the proposal from EU health and consumer protection commissioner David Byrne to continue the suspension of imports into the EU of chicken products and pet birds from Asian countries affected by the virus.

The ban covers imports of fresh chicken meat and chicken products from Thailand and pet birds from Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Pakistan, China, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. The EC says that the decision is in line with OIE (International Organisation of Animal Health) guidelines.

"We must all remain vigilant and member states must ensure that the import ban is fully respected at ports and airports,"​ said Byrne. "Our ban is designed to keep the disease out of Europe so that neither our citizens nor poultry stocks should be at risk."

The ban will be kept under constant review, and there is a possibility that it may be amended, should circumstances change. Avian influenza is a highly contagious poultry disease that can cause severe economic damage to the poultry industry. There are also real fears that the virus, which can be transmitted to humans, may be increasing in virulence.

Although the risk of importing the virus in meat or meat products is probably very low, the EU is determined to make sure that any possible transmission is avoided. Industry bodies such as the British Poultry Council have warned that a decline in consumer confidence could destroy poultry processing within the EU.

Thirteen people have died from the deadly disease in Asia. There are growing fears that the highly contagious virus is being passed between humans, rather than being caught from coming into contact with sick chickens. If this is the case, the virus has the potential to unleash a pandemic.

However, Thailand is confident that it can persuade the European Union to shorten its six-month ban on chicken imports from the country. Reuters quotes chief government spokesman Jakrapob Penkair as saying that the number of red zones - the five-km area around a confirmed outbreak within which all poultry must be slaughtered - were down to just 14 in seven provinces today.

Last week, Thailand had more than 140 red zones in 29 of its 76 provinces following the slaughter of at least 25 million poultry. "We've moved to the stage of rehabilitating and upgrading chicken farms,"​ Jakrapob told a news conference.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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