BRAMPTON, Ontario (CU)_Canadian poultry and egg imports have been restricted by the United States, the European Union and 29 other countries, according to an industry lobby group. The Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council says the restrictions the restrictions vary in scope, but farmers remain concerned.
The trade controls are owing to this year’s deadly avian flu which has infected almost every province across Canada. While some countries are banning all poultry and egg imports from the country, others are limiting their restrictions to affected provinces. For instance, the measures enacted by the US and the EU only apply to products which are imported from within 10-kilometre zones around each infected farms, the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council (CPEPC) told the Globe and Mail in an email.
Recent figures published by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency show that since the H5N1 strain was first found in the country in December last year, about 1.37 million birds have died or have been culled. Nevertheless, experts insist the domestic supply chain is not yet under pressure. In the case of its impact on human health, the H5N1 virus rarely infects people and in those rare occasions that it does, the symptoms are often limited to conjunctivitis (commonly known as pink eye) and mild respiratory disease.
However, the flu does spread easily among birds, particularly through bird feces and respiratory secretions. According to the CFIA website, H5N1 has been detected in 71 sites in the country, across every province except for Prince Edward Island. During the previous outbreak in 2004, over 16 million birds had to be culled Fraser Valley, in southwestern British Columbia. Since then, Canadian poultry industry launched biosecurity measures to contain the spread of Avian flu between farms, and so far, the damage has been far less severe this year.