China bans import of U.S. poultry products on avian flu fear

This week, China joined a growing list of countries banning the import of U.S. poultry products following reports of the discovery of a highly contagious strain of avian influenza in three West Coast states.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine issued the ban effective Jan. 9, the USDA said. The move comes in the wake of the December discovery of a highly pathogenic strain of H5N8 in a backyard flock of guinea hens and chickens in Oregon. Separately, the strain was found in wild birds in California and Washington.

China is a key export market for U.S. poultry products, accounting for more than $272 million in chicken, turkey and duck products sold between January and November last year.

The USDA has said it hasn't found any cases of avian flu in any U.S. commercial poultry operations. The virus has the potential to cause illness in humans; however, no such illnesses have been reported globally that are connected to the strains recently found in the U.S.

Other countries that have either restricted or outright banned imports of poultry from Washington and Oregon include the 28 members of the European Union, as well as Thailand, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the Republic of Korea.

In September, Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong either restricted or suspended the importation of poultry meat, meat products and eggs from Salem County, New Jersey, after the discovery of low pathogenic H7 avian influenza. The H7 subtype was detected through routine testing of mallard ducks and pheasants at a breeding farm and hunting preserve in the county.

- see the USDA notification
- read Food Safety News' take

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