Avian Flu

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 14th June 2005.

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Photo of Sylvia Hermon Sylvia Hermon UUP, North Down

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what precautionary measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of the avian influenza virus H5N1 to the United Kingdom.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare)

If there is an outbreak of disease in an exporting country Defra takes appropriate emergency safeguard action in accordance with Community legislation. This may include a ban on imports of animals and animal products from all, or parts, of that country.

Safeguard measures in relation to Avian influenza (Al) were put in place for effected Asian countries in January 2004 and have since been extended to 30 September 2005. Restrictions were placed on South African imports in August 2004 and have now been extended to 31 December 2005.

The situation in affected countries is kept under review and controls on imports are modified in line with community decisions. Safeguard measures are currently in place to ban or restrict imports of animals, meat and other products of susceptible species in respect of highly pathogenic Avian influenza (HPAI) in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, including the territory of Hong Kong, North Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and South Africa.

All poultry meat and birds imported into the EU from third countries must enter at designated border inspection posts where they are subject to veterinary inspections. All consignments are subject to documentary and identity checks. These checks ensure that these import conditions are met.

From the time of import, live poultry, or eggs once hatched, must be held in quarantine for six weeks in an approved establishment to ensure that they are not carrying disease.

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