Flu outbreak prompts EU to ban Thai poultry
The European Commission suspended the import of all poultry meat and meat products from Thailand Friday after confirming an outbreak of avian flu. The disease is highly contagious and can be spread to humans. The import ban does not apply to meat and related byproducts from poultry slaughtered before Jan. 1.
The European Union does not import live chickens or hatching eggs from Thailand, but took the measure to protect the poultry industry from damage, even though it considers the risk of importing the virus in meat is low.
“Given the seriousness of potential risk for Europe we have to ban Thai poultry imports immediately. We cannot take any risks with public health or animal health,” said David Byrne, the EU’s health and consumer protection minister, in a statement.
The EU imported 120,000 ton of poultry meat and poultry products from Thailand in 2002 and 128,000 ton from January to October 2003.
Outbreaks of avian influenza have been reported in Vietnam, South Korea and Japan during the past few weeks. Because the EU does not import any poultry or poultry products from these countries, no specific EU measures were adopted after these outbreaks.