Russia to tighten bird flu controls

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Russia to tighten bird flu controls

Related tags Bird flu Poultry products Russia Livestock Poultry

Russia’s consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor has warned that it could impose a total ban on imports of poultry products from China over bird flu fears.

Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, head of the service and Russia’s chief public health official Gennady Onishchenko said that Rospotrebnadzor would not allow the bird flu epidemic currently gripping China to spread to the Russian Federation and would take any necessary measures to strengthen controls.

 Onishchenko said the epidemic of H7N9 bird flu was particularly dangerous, because so much was still unknown about this particular strain.

 “The disease is transmitted from poultry to humans. We know that China has implemented serious control measures, including quarantines and the withdrawal of poultry products from the market. However, the process [of human contamination] does not stop, so not everything in this situation is clear,”​ he said.

 Russia has had severe restrictions on the import of poultry products from China in place since 2004, meaning that there is very little direct supply of Chinese poultry into the Russian meat industry, but Rospotrebnadzor claimed the current epidemic had forced it to tighten control measures further and consider a total ban to completely eliminate the possibility of importing products to Russia from China.

 “The epidemic of bird flu has forced Rospotrebnadzor to conduct very tight control of all trains and all passenger traffic from the countries in Central Asia. For example, on trains, we try to identify all poultry products, including those that are transported in hand luggage,”​ said Marat Uzni, officer for Rospotrebnadzor in the Far Eastern District.

 “Where we detect these products, we remove and test them. Together with the Customs Service we have also agreed to strengthen the control on the border with China in the Far East in order to completely eliminate any possibility of smuggling poultry products.”

 A source in Rosselkhoznadzor said the spread of bird flu in China could also lead to a ban on imports of poultry products from other countries.

 “The situation is very serious and we have the right to protect ourselves with any measures. China has practically no direct industrial supply of poultry to Russia, but it is importing meat to our country via Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan,"​ he said.

"For a long time we have looked the other way, but we cannot do this any more. Now the question of what to do with this is under discussion."

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