How to stay on top of Bird flu outbreak government restrictions

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

UK government poultry restrictions extended. Picture: NFU Cymru.
UK government poultry restrictions extended. Picture: NFU Cymru.

Related tags Influenza Avian influenza World health organization

Farmers and food producers need to stay up-to-date on current legislation after UK government restrictions to tackle an outbreak of bird flu were extended to protect the food chain, says AmiVet Exports.

Since June 2016, at least 24 countries​ in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region have seen outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5N8) virus in wild birds and domestic poultry.

Additional controls

Outbreaks have also been reported in countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

It is the second time the virus has caused outbreaks in Europe with the autumn migration of wild birds. It was first detected in birds in Asia in 2014.

Andrew Iveson, director, AmiVet Exports, who specialize in certifying animal-based food products as safe for export, told FoodQualityNews, food firms exporting poultry products now face additional controls.

Great Britain has been declared a ‘prevention zone’ until the end of April 2017, by DEFRA – extra biosecurity measures are in place which vary depending on the area. Essentially, this brings a whole host of export restrictions that must be adhered t​o,” he said.

Avian flu can have a damaging impact on manufacturers exporting poultry products. Already four countries – Israel, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Singapore – have banned or restricted poultry importation and many others could follow suit.​”

Countries throughout Europe have reported bird flu incidents​. As a result, information regarding premises of origin is vital within the export industry. 

Export Health Certificates

AmiVet Exports provides Export Health Certificates (EHCs) issued in partnership with the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) to ensure products meet strict criteria for international trade.

EHCs require poultry and poultry products to be checked by an official veterinarian (OV), who then signs and stamps the certificate. With approximately 75 different poultry export health certificates available for countries worldwide and export controls changing almost daily, ensuring you are adhering to regulations is essential​,” added Iveson.

The restrictions, calling on poultry to be kept indoors, have been in place since December 2016. In addition to affecting exporting regulations, it has also led to free range eggs​ temporarily losing their free range status. 

England, Scotland and Wales will remain in a prevention zone until the end of April 2017, however it was announced on February 28 that keepers can let their birds out if enhanced biosecurity measures​ are in place, which vary slightly depending on location.

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