Japan bans French foie gras over bird flu fears

Japan has banned imports of foie gras from France following a bird flu outbreak in the Dordogne region of the country. Japan is the biggest importer of the controversial delicacy.

Japan bans French foie gras over bird flu fears
French foie gras has been banned in Japan. Photo: AFP

The outbreak of bird flu continues to have an impact on the French poultry industry.

On Friday Japan announced that it had banned imports of foie gras.

The country is the biggest importer of the delicacy and the move comes in the run up to Christmas, a period when sales are normally at their highest.

The ban will be lifted 90 days after all affected French poultry farms finish culling their birds and conclude necessary sanitary procedures, an from the agriculture ministry told AFP.

It is believed the ban applies to foie gras made and exported after October 23, which is 21 days before the first case was reported and the length of time the bacteriatakes to incubate.

Foie gras and other poultry products dating from before October 23rd can still be imported.

It comes after a string of countries in Asia and north Africa have banned imports of French poultry following a bird flu outbreak, the agriculture ministry said on Thursday in Paris.

Algeria, China, Egypt, Japan, Morocco, South Korea, Thailand and Tunisia have stopped imports following the outbreak last month in the southwestern area of Dordogne, said Loic Evain, deputy head of the ministry's food division.

“The list is not exhaustive,” Evain said, but does not include France's 27 European Union partners, who have accepted containment measures proposed by Paris under World Health Organisation guidelines.

“Unfortunately some countries' first reaction is to close their borders and only then to discuss” strategy, Evain said.

He added that “for the time being there is no decision” to block French poultry by Gulf region states which are major consumers.

South Korea imposed its ban last Thursday on imports of French poultry and live birds after the European Commission confirmed birds at a French chicken farm were infected with the H5N1 strain.

The commission ordered all 32 birds at the farm to be culled and called for close monitoring of neighbouring poultry farms.

Bird flu outbreaks have been reported in Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East. South Korea was also hit by a string of outbreaks of the virus this year.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Isolation nearly over for Norway penguins as vaccination arrives

They have been living under strict confinement measures for months, but soon the second shot of a life-saving vaccine will let them go outside and get back to their normal lives.

Isolation nearly over for Norway penguins as vaccination arrives
Illustration photo: Manon Buizert on Unsplash

While it sounds like a familiar story, in this case their normal lives involve sliding about on their bellies, frolicking in icy water and catching fish in their mouths.

Twenty-nine gentoo penguins at Norway’s Bergen Aquarium have had a tarp stretched over their pen since early December after cases of a highly infectious bird flu strain, H5N8, were detected in the country.

“Because of this, the Food Health Authority introduced a curfew: all birds in captivity must be kept under a roof,” aquarium director Aslak Sverdrup told AFP on Thursday. 

But the end is in sight, with the arrival of bird flu vaccine doses.

The oldest and most fragile had their first shot on Wednesday, followed by the younger penguins on Thursday, the aquarium said.

Among the freshly immunised is “Erna”, named for Prime Minister Erna Solberg who once had a summer job at the aquarium, a tourist attraction in the western city where she was born.

Once the second vaccine dose has been administered in a month’s time, the birds will be able to see the sky again.

“The fact that penguins are being vaccinated now is pure coincidence, totally independent of the coronavirus, but it shows that vaccines are important, even more so today,” Sverdrup said.

In the wild, gentoo penguins live on the other side of the Earth, in Antarctica.

None at the Bergen Aquarium caught the flu, and while the disease can be devastating for birds, transmission to humans is rare.