Ohio, California poultry imports banned after outbreak of bird flu

Ohio, California poultry imports banned after outbreak of bird flu

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has banned shipments of poultry products from two US states after outbreaks of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), or bird flu.

In a statement on Wednesday, the DA said that imports of domestic and wild birds, poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs, and semen from Ohio and California were suspended starting Jan. 15.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. said that the import ban was necessary to prevent the entry of bird flu into the Philippines.

“The rapid spread of the HPAI H5N1 strain in the United States since the first laboratory detection necessitates wider coverage of the trade restriction to prevent the entry of the HPAI virus and protect the health of the local population,” he added.

In 2016, Philippine and US veterinary authorities agreed that statewide bans could be imposed if three or more counties in each state are affected by the virus.

The US Veterinary Services notified the World Organisation for Animal Health in November of the bird flu cases in the two states.

Mr. Laurel said that he had ordered the immediate suspension of the processing, evaluation, and issuance of the Sanitary Phytosanitary Import Clearances on shipments from Ohio and California.

He added that such shipments from the two states may still be accepted provided that the items were produced or slaughtered 14 days before the first outbreak.

“Poultry and poultry products imported to the country from the states of California and Ohio after Nov. 14 and Nov. 21, shall be seized and destroyed by the DA, or returned to the country of origin,” it said.

It added that other US states excluded from the ban may still ship poultry and poultry products to the Philippines.

Poultry meat imports from the US amounted to 166,356 metric tons in 2023; the shipments were valued at $175.78 million. The US accounts for about 40% of Philippine poultry imports.

The DA earlier banned imports of poultry from Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota after a similar outbreak of HPAI. — Adrian H. Halili