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Bird flu: first restrictions from importing countries with vaccination of ducks

The French poultry industry is beginning to suffer from the first restrictions. After the start of vaccination of ducks against bird flu in France, the USA, Canada and Japan began to restrict their imports. These measures have had limited economic impact to date. “Since vaccination, these countries have the right to consider that France is no longer an avian influenza-free zone,” explains Yann Nedelec, director of the French interprofessional poultry association Anvol.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza struck the foie gras country from 2015 to 2017, and then almost continuously since late 2020. Following an unprecedented crisis (32 million birds have been culled since summer 2021), the government has decided to vaccinate farms of more than 250 ducks, excluding breeding ducks, from 1 October to try to stop the spread of the infection.

However, this prevention campaign is of concern to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Vaccination “may mask infection with avian influenza virus (…) and thus permit the export of infected live animals or products contaminated with the virus into the United States.” Therefore, the country has banned imports from France of live poultry, hatching eggs (intended to prepare future chicks or ducklings), as well as unprocessed poultry meat. According to the USDA, poultry products that are prepared or cooked in a way that kills the virus can still be imported with proper documentation.

The volumes in question are “not huge”

Unable to ensure that vaccinated ducks, and thus potentially healthy carriers of the disease, would not circulate freely within European countries in the common market, the United States also restricted imports of live ducks and raw poultry products coming from that area.

Canada, for its part, has “temporarily” suspended imports of live poultry, hatching eggs and fresh, frozen or raw poultry products from France, while continuing to allow products that are “cooked, cooked or processed.” This was reported by the Food Inspection Agency. “We do not know whether the meat of vaccinated ducks can be exported to other countries, or how France will identify, trace and control vaccinated breeding animals,” it justifies itself. Japan has also introduced restrictions.

The volumes involved industry-wide are “not huge,” Yann Nedelec points out. In the “live poultry and eggs” category, exports to the US, for example, account for only 1% of France’s total exports, according to French customs. But products with very high added value, such as poultry from Bresse to Japan, are suffering, notes an Anvol representative.

Japan delivered in advance

The restrictions are also problematic for the genetics sector, which includes hatching eggs and day-old poultry sent to other farms to produce table eggs or broiler poultry, the official said, stressing that France is recognized for its know-how in genetics. rustic varieties or organic labels.

A monitoring system for the virus was set up, in part to reassure countries that fear it is circulating quietly on farms, Yann Nedelec said. “Once we have all the necessary documentation that the vaccination, surveillance and movement control strategy will not increase the risk of avian influenza (…), we will be able to lift or reduce avian influenza restrictions,” he said. American Ministry.

With foie gras, an emblematic product of French gastronomy, the situation is particularly problematic in Japan, said Marie-Pierre Pé, director of the Interprofessional Committee for Foie Gras Palmopedes (Cifog). Flows into the US are virtually nil, and restrictions in Canada only apply to raw materials. But the decision by Tokyo, Japan’s capital, was expected and “we took precautions in advance to be able to serve the Japanese people during the year-end holidays,” she said.

Source: Le Parisien

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