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Ban on Thai chicken imports as boys catch avian flu

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Ban on Thai chicken imports as boys catch avian flu By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Brussels and Alex Spillius in Bangkok (Filed: 24/01/2004) The European Commission banned imports of Thai poultry yesterday to halt the spread of deadly bird flu after two boys came down with the virus outside Bangkok. Following moves by Japan and Hong Kong, Brussels announced it was blocking the sale of all Thai chicken slaughtered after Jan 1, in addition to eggs and poultry products for pet food. David Byrne, the food safety commissioner, dismissed criticism that the EU was over-reacting to the health scare sweeping Asia. "We cannot take any risks with public health or animal health," he said. ...read more.


There is no evidence so far that the virus can be transmitted between humans, but health experts are constantly on alert for mutations that could ultimately trigger a deadly pandemic. The World Health Organisation, calling the near simultaneous bird flu outbreaks across much of Asia "unprecedented", said it was concerned that a new, virulent strain of influenza could sweep around the world. It said eliminating the H5N1 bird flu virus "should be given high priority as a matter of international public health importance". EU officials said the main purpose of the ban was to prevent commercial damage to European poultry farmers and producers. Brussels is concerned that the virus could infect EU chicken farms if left-overs from Thai imports are fed - illegally - to EU birds. ...read more.


They were then covered with powdered lime. Thailand is a leading exporter of chicken products to British supermarkets, particularly Tesco, which has a considerable presence there. Last year Britain imported more than 12,000 tons of frozen birds, and more than 35,000 tons of nuggets and other processed goods, but no live chickens or eggs. Until yesterday the Thai authorities insisted that sick birds were afflicted with cholera, not flu. Mrs Sudarat denied there had been a cover-up, though farmers and government experts too afraid to speak out by name have for days blamed the epidemic on bird flu, accusing the leadership of trying to protect exports at grave risks to public health. Japan, Vietnam, and South Korea are on a watch list but were exempted from yesterday's ban since they do not export poultry directly to Europe. ...read more.

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