Brussels, 15 February 2006
European Commission draft Decisions on avian influenza to approve co-funding for national surveillance plans and to ban imports of untreated feathers from third countries received favourable opinions from Member States in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) today.
National surveillance plans and EU co-funding agreed
A Commission proposal to approve Member States’ individual surveillance plans for avian influenza, and to provide up to 50% co-funding for the programmes has been endorsed by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health today. The EU will contribute €1 964 800 towards the costs of national surveillance programmes for the period 1st February 2006 to 31st December 2006 (see table below). The national surveillance programmes aim to ensure early detection of any outbreak of avian influenza in the EU. The approved programmes outline the number of samples that will be taken from both wild and domestic birds in each Member State, and the type and number of tests that will be done. In total, around 60 000 tests in wild birds and 300 000 in domestic birds have been submitted for co-financing for this period. The Commission previously committed €884 000 towards the cost of national surveillance programmes carried out from July 2005 to January 2006 (see MEMO/05/319), and Member States are due to submit detailed results of the programmes for that period to the Commission before the end of March 2006.
Imports of untreated feathers from third countries banned
A Commission proposal to suspend the import of untreated feathers from all Third countries has been backed by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) today. Untreated feather imports from several countries affected by avian influenza have already been suspended by the EU, comprising most of the main exporters. Today’s decision to suspend their import from all Third countries was taken in light of the rapid spread of avian influenza over the past months and the current high risk of the disease spreading further. This measure is also in line with a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Opinion, which stated that feathers should be properly treated before being traded, to reduce the risk avian influenza being spread through feathers and feather parts. The restrictions on untreated feather imports will remain in place until 31 July 2006, during which time the EU will review its general legislation on the import of feathers, together with Member States and industry.
In the meantime, the import of feathers treated with a steam current, or by some method which ensures that no pathogens remain in the product, can continue. These products, which are used in pillows, sleeping bags and similar items are considered to be safe.
EU CO-FINANCING OF NATIONAL SURVEILLANCE PLANS
For more information on avian influenza, see