The European Commission has suspended imports of all poultry meat and poultry products from Thailand into the EU. This follows confirmation of 'avian flu' (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza - HPAI) in Thailand today.
In parallel Defra has introduced a ban on the import of such poultry meat and meat products into England. Ben Bradshaw, the animal health Minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said:
"Avian influenza is a highly contagious poultry disease that can be transmitted to humans by direct contact with live poultry. Imports of live poultry and hatching eggs from Thailand are already prohibited.
"I am very keen to ensure we do everything possible to prevent the disease being introduced into UK poultry flocks via imports of poultry meat. Although we have assessed the risk of importing the virus in meat or meat products as low we cannot take any chances. We have therefore been tracking development of this disease in Southeast Asia very carefully and now that it has been confirmed in Thailand I welcome the swift action taken by the Commission to suspend imports. "
The following additional notes are provided:
1. Avian influenza (AI) is highly contagious, causing widespread fatality of poultry and serious economic damage. Outbreaks of the disease have been recently reported in other parts of Southeast Asia but confirmation of the disease in Thailand is of more concern since the EU imports large quantities of poultry meat from Thailand.
2. The disease can also spread to humans via close contact with infected live poultry.
3. Imports of live poultry and hatching eggs from Thailand into the EU are already prohibited.
4. Following today's confirmation of AI in poultry in Thailand by the Thai authorities, the European Commission decided to suspend imports of:
- fresh meat of poultry;
- wild and farmed feathered game;
- poultry meat preparations and poultry meat products consisting of or containing meat of the above species;
- raw material for pet food production; and
- eggs for human consumption.
5. Imports of poultry meat and products from birds slaughtered before 1 January 2004 can still be imported provided they are accompanied by official health certification confirming this. Also, products produced at any time that have been heat-treated can be imported.