French foie gras exports banned after new case of bird flu

French foie gras producers remain banned from exporting their product outside Europe after the discovery of a new case of bird flu at a farm in the south west.

French foie gras exports banned after new case of bird flu
Photo: AFP

The outbreak near the town of Carmaux has led to the deaths of 3,000 ducks out of the 5,000 on the farm, it was reported on Sunday.

On Friday authorities confirmed it was an outbreak of the H5N8 strain of bird flu, which is “highly pathogenic” for birds but harmless for humans.

But it’s harmful for France’s foie gras producers who, after a particularly tough year, are temporarily restricted from exporting the product that is mostly made through the controversial method of force feeding geese and ducks to fatten their livers.

Last month, after outbreaks of bird flu in several European countries, France was forced to take extra safety measures to restrict the chances of contamination on home soil.

Some 64 departments in France have had their risk level raised from “negligible” to “elevated” after the H5N8 strain of the virus was discovered abroad. 

The risks of bird flu have kept French authorities on their toes this year, with the ministry launching a three-month ban in May on the production of foie gras following a bird flu scare in the south west of France. 


The ban meant that 18 departments weren't allowed to have ducks or geese in their slaughterhouses or production rooms over the period. 

Foie gras is consumed in lavish quantities in France at Christmas and New Year.

In June Jean-Jacques Caspari of the foie gras industry association CIFOG warned of shortages and soaring prices that were likely to last even beyond this year's festive season.

“We can expect an increase in the price of foie gras of between 10 and 20 percent,” he said, adding that this year would see a 25 percent drop in production the 18,820 tonnes produced in 2015.

He said the industry still had “12 to 18 months” before it can expect to recover from an avian influenza scare that broke out in November last year at a chicken farm in the Dordogne region.

France usually produces 75 percent of the world's foie gras.

The luxury dish has become a battleground between animals-rights campaigners and defenders of France's gourmet traditions.

Force-feeding — known as “gavage” in France — has been banned in several countries but is legal in France.

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Japan bans French foie gras over bird flu fears

Japan has banned imports of foie gras from France following a bird flu outbreak in the Dordogne region of the country. Japan is the biggest importer of the controversial delicacy.

Japan bans French foie gras over bird flu fears
French foie gras has been banned in Japan. Photo: AFP

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.

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.