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IP/04/423

Brussels, 30 March 2004

Restrictions lifted on poultry imports from the USA and Canada. Only Texas and a part of British Columbia still restricted

The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health today approved European Commission proposals to limit the suspension of imports of live poultry, poultry meat and products and eggs from the USA and Canada to the areas where the outbreaks of avian influenza occurred and a large surrounding buffer zone. Import restrictions for the entire US and Canadian territory were imposed after the confirmation of high pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks in the two countries. However, the current disease situation and available information now allow a reduction of the protective measures to a confined area. For the USA, the import restrictions are now limited to the State of Texas and for Canada to a part of the province of British Columbia.

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection said: "It is now timely to lift most of the import restrictions as all necessary information provided by the two countries indicate that the high pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreaks in the two countries have been confined to a limited area. This demonstrates the proportionality and flexibility of the EU's decision making capacity based on risk analysis".

USA

On 23 February, the US authorities confirmed an outbreak of high pathogenic avian influenza (AI) in the State of Texas. To protect the European poultry flocks and to avoid the introduction of the disease into the EU, the European Commission immediately decided to suspend imports of live poultry, ratites, farmed and wild feathered game, fresh meat, meat products, hatching eggs and eggs for human consumption of these species and birds other than poultry from all of the USA (See IP/04/257).

The USA has communicated additional information on the disease situation and the control actions taken with a view to obtaining the implementation by the EU of regionalisation measures, in line with the provisions in the Veterinary Agreement between the EU and the USA. In the light of the available information, EU restrictions can now be limited to the State of Texas.

This decision on regionalisation will enter into force as soon the proposal is adopted by the Commission and is applicable until 23 August 2004. It can be reviewed in the light of the AI situation in the USA.

Canada

On 9 March, the Canadian authorities confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a poultry flock in the province of British Columbia. The Commission immediately introduced the same import restrictions for poultry imports from Canada as the ones imposed in the case of the USA (see IP/04/325).

Subsequently four further outbreaks have been identified in close proximity to the first case. The information on the disease situation and the control actions taken have been communicated by the Canadian authorities and they allow the EU now to apply regionalisation by limiting the import restrictions to a confined area. The suspension of imports of live poultry, ratites, farmed and wild feathered game, fresh meat, meat products, hatching eggs and eggs for human consumption of these species will be limited to the area in the province of British Columbia bounded by: In the West: The Georgia Strait, in the South: the border of the United States of America, in the North: the North Shore Mountain Range of the Fraser River and in the East: a line running North-South through the Hunter Creek Weigh Scale of the Province of British Columbia.

This decision will now be adopted by the Commission and enter into force then. It will apply until 1 October but can be reviewed in the light of the disease situation in Canada.


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