As highly pathogenic avian influenza detections mount worldwide, the International Poultry Council (IPC) is urging the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to encourage its member countries to abide by OIE guidelines when imposing trade restrictions on poultry meat and breeding stock.

In a statement sent May 4 to Dr. Bernard Vallat, director general of OIE, IPC points out that widespread influenza cases affecting commercial poultry flocks are causing many countries to impose unwarranted trade restrictions that go against OIE recommendations.

IPC argues that the manner in which veterinary officials in some countries interpret the rules laid out in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code “is causing widespread disruption to the trade in poultry breeding stock and poultry meat, causing potentially serious damage to poultry production in their own countries, and jeopardizing an essential element of sustainable global food security.

“The reaction of many national veterinary authorities has been to impose national bans on all poultry imports without consideration of alternate risk-management strategies,” the statement reads. “National veterinary authorities may not always be using all the available measures agreed by OIE for the continuation of safe trade, specifically in the kind of disease circumstances currently being experienced.”

In imposing import restrictions on poultry from countries with active influenza infections, officials in some countries ban not only poultry meat, but also fertile hatching eggs, day-old chicks and turkey poults, which can have negative implications for the domestic industries in these countries, according to IPC. 


“Fertile hatching eggs and day-old breeding poultry from a compartment, zone or region certified free of notifiable avian influenza, which are consigned by air, present no risk to a transited country when the consignment remains in the aircraft or is transferred under bond between aircraft at the same airport,” the IPC statement points out.

Poultry is the world’s “fastest-growing global animal protein sector,” the IPC statement continues, “with growth in developing countries progressing at a much higher rate than in the developed world. Poultry meat now provides a significant and increasing part of the nutritional needs of the populations in developing countries.”

IPC also points out that countries that are members of the OIE “have agreed to procedures for the conduct of trade in breeding stock, live poultry and poultry meat, including compartmentalization, zoning and regionalization, for managing safe trade in the event of notifiable avian influenza disease outbreaks in exporting countries.

“The procedures set down in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code provide comprehensive guidance to veterinary authorities for establishing zones and regions free of notifiable avian influenza, and to veterinary authorities and poultry companies for establishing and maintaining compartments free of notifiable avian influenza for the purposes of safe export.”

Use WATTAgNet's avian influenza map to keep updated on avian influenza outbreaks across North America.