Imports of poultry products from countries infected with the avian influenza virus have been banned, the SA Poultry Association (Sapa) said on Wednesday.
“Importers, as well as the poultry industry, must immediately stop importing live poultry, poultry meat and processed poultry products from affected countries as well as those that transit through those areas to South Africa,” director of Sapa’s poultry disease management agency, Charlotte Nkuna, said in a statement.
She said the ban was imposed by the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The department said it would respond to questions regarding the ban on Thursday. Canada and several countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands had culled thousands of birds due to outbreaks of the highly infectious virus, also known as bird flu.
“As the avian influenza virus survives for a long time in frozen material, the flood of imported frozen poultry products potentially increases the risk to the national flock,” said Nkuna.
Sapa senior executive Sol Motsepe said the department would ban imports until affected countries were rid of the virus, which would only be the case three months after the last positive case had been reported.
“Affected countries then resubmit re-certification applications for exports to South Africa, a lengthy but critical process to ensure South African poultry and our consumers are protected.”
However, Motsepe said poultry from local suppliers was safe to eat and they were able to meet the country’s demands.
Nkuna said local poultry suppliers tested their flocks twice a year for influenza strains.
“We nevertheless remain vigilant with the highest levels of biosecurity in place as successful eradication depends on a country’s ability to respond quickly with high levels of human and financial resources to stop the spread of the infection.” SAPA