EU lifts restrictions on heat-treated Chinese poultry

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food safety European union

The European Union has lifted restrictions on poultry products from a particular region in China.

A spokesperson for the European Commission DG on Health and Safety told that nine poultry companies, all located in China’s eastern Shandong Province, have been approved to export heat-treated poultry products to the EU.

The decision is effective from 3 September 2008 but the spokesperson added that companies will be subject to inspections to ensure safety standards are being adhered to.

The restrictions on EU imports of Chinese poultry began in 2004, following an outbreak of avian flu.

Total poultry exports from China to the EU could reach 100,000 tons, or $1bn in sales, according to a statement from the Shandong provincial department of foreign trade.

The move will result in greater choice for European food processors in terms of where they source their poultry and could have a positive impact on poultry prices in the bloc.

According to Chinese media reports, the Shandong bureau of entry-exit inspection and quarantine said that authorities had made strenuous efforts to regain access to the EU market by translating EU regulations and requirements in regard to poultry product imports into Chinese in order to ensure companies were operating accordingly in breeding, slaughter and heat treatment.

The EU authorities have inspected poultry companies in Shandong Province for bird flu prevention, drug residue and sanitation during heat treatment since 2004.

Food safety scheme

Earlier this year, US food and agriculture company Cargill announced it intended to establish a joint food safety management training programme with China's Quality, Inspection and Quarantine Service (AQSIQ).

The company said that it would provide Chinese government officials, academics and business leaders with a two week food safety training programme to expand their expertise and knowledge in food safety management.

Cargill claimed that the programme was part of a global initiative involving the company and selected academic, inter-governmental and non-governmental institutions to better harmonise global food safety systems.

Assuring the safety of food and ingredients coming from China has become a priority following a number of major contamination cases last year and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also stepped up efforts to assure the safety of Chinese products.

In April, wheat gluten products imported into the US from China for use in pet food were found to have been contaminated with banned chemical melamine and were blamed for animal deaths. This uncovered a host of other cases that have left manufacturers who buy ingredients from the country under pressure to demonstrate they are sourcing responsibly and regulators scrambling to assure consumers their food is safe.

US poultry

Meanwhile, the EU continues to uphold an 11-year ban on imports of US poultry.

US producers use low-concentration chlorine to wash chickens before selling them which flouts EU regulations.

A European Commission proposal to remove the ban was rejected by the Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) in June.

MEPs, speaking in the Parliament's Environment Committee in response to the Commission proposal, said the chlorination of chicken intended for human consumption is not acceptable for the EU and would threaten the community's entire set of food production standards.

Related topics Food Safety & Quality

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