EU insists on PEDv test for US and Canadian live pig imports

By Keith Nuthall

- Last updated on GMT

Live pigs will be tested for PEDv to guard against a spread to Europe
Live pigs will be tested for PEDv to guard against a spread to Europe

Related tags: Eu member states, European union, Eu, Livestock, Pork

Live pigs imported from the USA and Canada will henceforth be tested for porcine epidemic diarrhoea virus (PEDv) to prevent the disease being introduced to Europe from North America.

The controls have been approved by the European Union’s (EU) standing committee on the food chain and animal health (SCOFCAH).

A European Commission note on the decision stressed that emerging PED viruses in north America are "causing major losses particularly to the US pig industry"​. It said that the USA and Canada are authorised to export live pigs to the EU, with 900 high genetic value pigs being imported last year (2013).

These measures follow discussions held last week during the world assembly of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). They complement temporary EU import requirements agreed last month (May) on pig blood products that may be used to feed piglets. The Commission has also asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to study emerging PED viruses, helping design risk mitigation measures.

Experts at the committee meeting reminded EU member states that they should strengthen biosecurity controls at farm level "to protect the European pig industry from infection"​. Brussels added that the EU industry was currently "thriving",​ with 22 million tonnes of pig meat produced each year, 13% of which are exported.

Committee papers have stressed that the current epidemic appears to be based on two viruses. One is an ‘alphacoronavirus’ causing the classic PEDv, which the OIE does not subject to international notification – no global standards have been developed to identify or fight it.

The committee noted: "This alphacoronavirus is present in the EU, there are no EU specific measures in place to control it within the EU and, in a consistent manner, also on imports." A second source is a new emerging ‘deltacoronavirus’, which the EU is particularly concerned about as "there is no information available suggesting the occurrence of this virus in Europe".

Current health rules for importing livestock from USA and Canada into the EU already include quarantine. And American and Canadian regulatory authorities have said no consignments of live pigs are currently scheduled to be dispatched to the EU, because of the disease outbreak.

Related topics: Meat

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