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EU calls poultry import bans “disproportionate” to risk

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by Elaine Frei
EU calls poultry import bans "disproportionate" to risk

In the wake of a bird flu outbreak at a turkey farm in Suffolk, five nations have now banned imports of poultry from the UK. South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and South Africa have halted all imports, while Russia has stopped most imports but still allows cooked meats to be imported. According to the British Poultry Council, exports make up about 10 percent of the industry’s earnings each year.

While the import bans will have some effect on the UK’s poultry industry, the five nations that halted imports have been characterized as minor markets. Between 75 percent and 80 percent of UK poultry exports are to other members of the European union. In accordance with EU rules, member countries have only prohibited the importation of poultry and poultry products from a restricted zone around the affected farm.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has said that the bans are “totally disproportionate” to the threat posed by the outbreak to humans. Additionally the UK’s environment secretary, David Miliband told members of Parliament that the outbreak represents only a “negligible” risk to humans and said that it was safe to eat poultry and eggs.

The cull of the 159,000 birds affected at the Suffolk farm was completed Monday night.

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News posted: February 6, 2007

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