Canada blocks poultry, eggs from U.S. Northwest

(Stephen Ausmus photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Birds, eggs and poultry products from Washington and Oregon are being kept out of Canada after findings of high-path avian flu in a pair of backyard flocks in those states.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Dec. 24 reported highly pathogenic (“high-path”) H5N2 avian flu in a backyard free-range flock of geese, turkeys, chickens, ducks and pigeons at Benton County in Washington.

That confirmation followed a backyard flock of guinea fowl and chickens at Winston, Oregon found Dec. 18 to have high-path H5N8. Both findings followed discoveries of the two subtypes in wild birds in the region.

USDA has since emphasized neither of the avian flu strains have yet been found in any commercial poultry flocks in either state.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency on Thursday announced new measures “to protect Canada’s poultry resources from an outbreak” of high-path avian flu.

All birds, all raw poultry and all poultry products and byproducts that are not fully cooked, including eggs and raw pet foods, sourced, processed, packaged or shipped from either state are now prohibited from entry into Canada until further notice, CFIA said.

USDA on Dec. 30 noted some countries have put such restrictions on U.S. poultry exports stemming from the Washington and Oregon findings — and some have put “far more restrictive measures than necessary” on U.S. products.

USDA said it’s “in communication with trading partners” to provide more information on the avian flu cases and “will press trading partners in the coming days to bring their import restrictions in line with OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) guidelines.”

OIE guidelines, USDA noted, call on countries to base trade restrictions on “sound science” and, where possible, limit restrictions to animals and products “within a defined region that pose a risk of spreading disease of concern.”

“No risk”

CFIA, for its part, emphasized there’s “no food safety risk” associated with any of the products being kept out of the country. CFIA said its measures are being taken to prevent introduction of avian flu into other parts of Canada.

CFIA is also still monitoring last month’s outbreaks of high-path H5N2 in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley region. The outbreak has so far included 11 turkey, broiler and egg operations in the region plus one backyard flock.

The agency, in a separate release Thursday, emphasized no new sites have been identified with avian flu since Dec. 19 and “depopulation” of all infected properties is complete.

Cleaning and disinfection are now underway at the sites, after which disease control measures will stay in place for another 21 days.

If no new cases are found, either in traceouts or by other means, during a 90-day surveillance period, the affected zone can be considered free of avian flu, CFIA said. — Network

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