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Japan bans French foie gras over bird flu fears

The Local/AFP · 4 Dec 2015, 12:40

Published: 04 Dec 2015 12:40 GMT+01:00

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The outbreak of bird flu continues to have an impact on the French poultry industry.

On Friday Japan announced that it had banned imports of foie gras.

The country is the biggest importer of the delicacy and the move comes in the run up to Christmas, a period when sales are normally at their highest.

The ban will be lifted 90 days after all affected French poultry farms finish culling their birds and conclude necessary sanitary procedures, an from the agriculture ministry told AFP.

It is believed the ban applies to foie gras made and exported after October 23, which is 21 days before the first case was reported and the length of time the bacteriatakes to incubate.

Foie gras and other poultry products dating from before October 23rd can still be imported.

It comes after a string of countries in Asia and north Africa have banned imports of French poultry following a bird flu outbreak, the agriculture ministry said on Thursday in Paris.

Algeria, China, Egypt, Japan, Morocco, South Korea, Thailand and Tunisia have stopped imports following the outbreak last month in the southwestern area of Dordogne, said Loic Evain, deputy head of the ministry's food division.

"The list is not exhaustive," Evain said, but does not include France's 27 European Union partners, who have accepted containment measures proposed by Paris under World Health Organisation guidelines.

"Unfortunately some countries' first reaction is to close their borders and only then to discuss" strategy, Evain said.

He added that "for the time being there is no decision" to block French poultry by Gulf region states which are major consumers.

Story continues below…

South Korea imposed its ban last Thursday on imports of French poultry and live birds after the European Commission confirmed birds at a French chicken farm were infected with the H5N1 strain.

The commission ordered all 32 birds at the farm to be culled and called for close monitoring of neighbouring poultry farms.

Bird flu outbreaks have been reported in Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East. South Korea was also hit by a string of outbreaks of the virus this year.

The Local/AFP (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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