Hong Kong bans poultry imports, Philippines to follow

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Hong Kong has suspended the import of poultry meat and eggs from Japan, South Korea, Norway, the Netherlands, and Poland following severe H5 bird flu outbreaks in Europe and Asia.

The spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, has put the industry on alert after culls of tens of millions of birds in previous outbreaks.

Hong Kong imported about 40 tons of chilled poultry meat, 2530 tons of frozen poultry meat, and more than 210 million eggs from Japan in the first nine months of this year. In the same period, the country also imported about 10 tons of frozen poultry and 280,000 eggs from South Korea.

Simon Wong Ka-wo, President of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades said the suspension has yet to affect restaurants as most use mainland (China) eggs. Preference was due to the price of Japanese eggs, which could be up to 100% higher.

Mr Wong said it is hard to tell how high the price of Japanese eggs will surge. “If it is too high, restaurants will use eggs from other regions such as the mainland,” he added.

Request to ban poultry imports

The Philippines’ Samahang Industriya sa Agrikultura (Sinag) is asking the country’s Department of Agriculture to temporarily ban all poultry imports as the resurgence of avian influenza in Europe and Asia may endanger the local poultry industry.

Sinag said this should be done until such time that the department has implemented its mandate for a border inspection on all imported agriculture and food products as it would only take a matter of time for avian influenza to reach the Philippines.

Several countries have already reported severe outbreaks of avian influenza, particularly in Europe and Asia. China, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France have all reported outbreaks.

The department has so far only imposed a temporary ban on poultry imports from the Netherlands.

Sinag’s Chairman Rosendo So said by now, the Philippines should have learned its lessons from the damage caused by the African swine fever, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We should have seen how important it is to guard those coming into the country. Are we still going to wait before the bird flu enters again and wreak havoc to our poultry growers?” he said.

The highly pathogenic H5N6 avian influenza was detected in March 2020 and was officially eradicated in January 2021.

Mr So argued that the Philippines is the only country that is not applying the global standard of quarantine inspection at the port of first entry of any imported food commodity.

He added that the department has been prioritizing unlimited importation instead of strengthening border control versus communicable diseases that may affect humans and livestock.

Read more:
Hong Kong monitors human case of H5N6 in China
Poland asks Philippines to lift ban on poultry imports