Food
AG | Nov 30, 2020

Antigua bans poultry from UK

/ Our Today

administrator
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Cites outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8) in England

Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda (Photo: Caricom.org)

Antigua and Barbuda has placed a ban on the importation of all poultry products from the United Kingdom because of the existing outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N8) in England.

While some in the Antigua and Barbuda government have called for a full ban, the Gaston Browne administration has put in place a temporary ban as an interim measure. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration, have called for a full ban of all poultry products from the UK to the tiny Caribbean island.

They argument for a full ban has been based on a desure to protect citizens and by extension the island’s poultry sector.

However, following a meeting of CARICOM chief veterinary officers, Antigua and Barbuda took the decision to impose a temporary ban in line with the move by its CARICOM partners.

A statement released by the government said, “this preventative approach has been taken as research and analysis has shown that this virus is on trend to continue its spread, particularly due to the imminent winter season in which flocks of wild birds migrate across the globe with the potential to spread the virus. A preventative approach has therefore been taken to safeguard people, food and the overall poultry sector of our nation and by extension the region”.

Free-range chickens are seen on a field. (File Photo: REUTERS)

BAN TOOK EFFECT ON NOVEMBER 25

The temporary ban came into effect on November 25 and has been placed on placed on all poultry from the chicken, duck, turkey, geese, guinea fowl, quail and squab. The ban also extends to all fresh, chilled and frozen poultry products, live birds as well as hatching eggs.

In addition, no import licences will be granted by the Veterinary and Livestock Division in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration to import poultry from the UK into Antigua and Barbuda. The statement indicated that processed poultry products (canned or hermetically sealed) must be accompanied by an International Veterinary Health Certificate attesting that it was treated to destroy the avian influenza virus.

In the meantime, the Veterinary and Livestock Division will continue to monitor the dynamic situation and will update importers accordingly. With this in mind, Antiguan poultry importers are being encouraged to utilise other markets such as the United States and Brazil for their poultry needs.

SUPPORT LOCAL POULTRY PRODUCERS

Poultry importers are also being encouraged to support local producers, who are able to assist in filling the void created in the market. All importers of poultry meat were invited to a virtual emergency meeting held on Friday November 27, 2020 to discuss the ban and its potential effects.

In the statement, the government advised that the H5N8 is a strain of the avian influenza virus which can result in catastrophic effects to the poultry sector in Antigua and Barbuda and across the region. According to the statement, “this virus has zoonotic potential (that is) it can be spread between animals and humans and is highly virulent and highly pathogenic.

The statement noted that a small amount of the virus can rapidly spread across massive numbers of birds in a short period of time. Entry of this virus can result in sudden death of birds for entire farms and flocks and devastate poultry farms within 48 hours.

In conclusion, the statement posited that a harmonised approach across the region is vital to secure the poultry sector across CARICOM.

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