Sun | May 28, 2017

Jamaica bans all poultry imports

Published:Friday | March 20, 2015 | 3:00 AMChristopher Serju

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has, with immediate effect, imposed a ban on the importation of all poultry, poultry products, poultry by-products which are not fully cooked, as well as hatching eggs and pet foods originating in the American states of Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Minnesota, California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, as well as British Columbia in Canada until further notice.

The list of banned products includes but is not limited to:

n live birds and hatching eggs, egg yolks, egg whites

n poultry meat (except fully cooked, canned, commercially sterile products)

n raw pet foods containing poultry

n feathers/offal.

This is in an effort to protect the country's poultry industry and public health from recently reported outbreaks of the highly contagious avian influenza, also called bird flu, from which Jamaica is currently free. However, the Veterinary Service Division in the agriculture ministry has advised that the ban is a precautionary measure since there is no immediate food-safety risk, and the consumption of properly cooked poultry meat and poultry products remains safe.

Affect most species

Avian influenza is a viral disease affecting the respiratory, digestive and/or nervous system of many species of birds and can affect most, if not all, species - domestic and wild birds. The severity of the disease ranges from mild to rapidly fatal and lethal strains of the virus, which can strike so quickly, particularly in young chickens, that there may be no clinical signs other than sudden death.

Scientists say, though it is not usually the case, bird flu can be passed to humans if they come in close contact with infected birds or bird droppings.

In addition to the ban, the agriculture ministry, working in collaboration with industry stakeholders is also looking at other measures to further safeguard Jamaica's poultry and human health. It has already engaged major players in the poultry industry, importers, Jamaica Customs Agency and the Ministry of Health on the matter. Further engagement will involve backyard and small-scale poultry operators, egg farmers, pet-bird owners, pet stores and all other stakeholders, to ensure full cooperation on the part of everyone.