South Korea suspends poultry imports from USA

poultry1-KoreaSouth Korea has temporarily banned poultry and related products imports from the USA due to a bird flu outbreak in the country, South Korean Agriculture Ministry has announced

The suspension, in effect from 20 December 2014, comes as South Korea is struggling to contain its own outbreak of bird flu in birds, Reuters reported.

“This import suspension is a quarantine measure to prevent the HPAI virus from entering the country,” the ministry statement said, referring to highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus.

It added that 18 countries including South Korea had been hit by the HPAI virus in 2014. However, the East Asian nation has had no human cases reported yet.

Two strains of avian influenza — H5N2 and H5N8 — have been confirmed in wild birds in Washington state, near the US border with Canada, but there was no immediate cause for public health concerns, US agriculture officials had said last week. Neither virus has been found in US commercial poultry.

South Korea’s imports from the United States in the first 11 months of the year included 63,245 tonnes of poultry meat and 264,000 chicks, according to ministry data, adding that the import suspension would not cause a shortage as domestic poultry meat supply was projected to rise by 17.5 per cent to 67,000 tonnes this month from a year earlier on top of 9,000 tonnes in inventory.

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