EU slaps month ban on US poultry

Related tags European union

US poultry exports to European Union countries were banned for one
month yesterday because of concerns over the emergence of bird
influenza in Texas. The ban, which covers all bird and egg imports
from the country, was enacted after a strain of the disease was
found in a farm near the city of San Antonio.

US officials maintain that the strain is less virulent than the one blamed for more than 20 deaths in Asia, but European leaders have reacted decisively to news of the outbreak. European Health commissioner David Byrne said that it was important that Europe should adopt a consistent approach with regard to the protection of animal health.

"We should only take such measures that are proportionate to the risk this issue presents to the EU,"​ he said. "It is not as virulent as the outbreak in Asia, but nevertheless its a highly contagious virus and therefore does require an immediate response from the EU."

This is another huge blow for the North American meat processing industry. The US is already grappling with a near-worldwide ban on its beef exports over mad cow disease concerns, and now Europe is following South Korea and the Philippines in banning US poultry products. A quarter of the EU's annual egg imports come from the US, worth €20 million in trade.

Russia, the largest poultry export market for the US, and Taiwan have also announced bans, but only on imports from Texas. Texas is the fourth US state to be hit by bird flu after Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but USDA officials say that the virus found in the San Antonio chicken flock is of a more dangerous form.

EU farm ministers will consider whether to renew the ban on 23 March. The EU of course already has a ban on imports of Thai poultry and products, including chicken meat following the discovery of widespread contamination there.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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