The Department of Agriculture (DA) has banned the importation of poultry and other poultry products, including wild birds, from Belgium and France after the two European nations reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) their respective outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in domestic birds.
Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr. said the import bans imposed on the neighboring European countries were necessary to prevent the possible entry of HPAI-H5N1 into the Philippines. “We’re doing this to protect the health of our local poultry population as well as poultry workers and consumers since H5N1 is a virus that can be transmitted to humans by infected animals,” he said.
Belgium and France, which share a border, almost simultaneously reported the bird flu outbreak in domestic birds to the WOAH. Belgium submitted its report on December 1, 2023 while France on November 30, 2023.
The DA’s imposition of the ban will immediately stop the acquisition of both domesticated and wild birds from Belgium and France. The indefinite import bans also prevent traders from bringing in Belgian and French poultry products including poultry meat, day-old chicks, hatching eggs, and poultry semen into the Philippines starting January 8, 2024.
Meat imports already in transit, loaded or accepted before the ban will still be allowed to enter the country if the poultry were slaughtered or the products were produced on or before November 12, 2023 in the case of France, and November 16, 2023 for Belgium. All imports after the above-mentioned dates will not be considered upon arrival in the country, except for heat-treated products.
Data shows that in 2022, the Philippines’ total importation of poultry meat increased by 1.57 percent compared to 2021, with 411,070 metric tons valued at 468,455,990 US dollars. Belgium accounts for 2.60 percent of the overall arrivals while no importation was recorded from France.
In 2023, Philippine importation of poultry meat reached 426,620 metric tons valued at 418,130,353 US dollars which is a 3.78 percent increase compared to 2022. France and Belgium account for 0.01 percent and 0.59 percent respectively of total imports.
The DA said the import bans will continue unless revoked by the agency. ### (OSEC Comms)