Singapore suspends poultry imports from four Japan prefectures following bird flu outbreaks

Officials in protective suits culling chickens on Nov 25 at a poultry farm in Kashima, Saga prefecture, where a highly pathogenic bird flu virus was detected. - PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE: Singapore has suspended the import of raw poultry and poultry products from four prefectures in Japan following recent reports of bird flu outbreaks, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said in a circular on Dec 8.

The temporary ban restricts raw poultry imports from Saga and Kagoshima in the Kyushu region, and Ibaraki and Saitama in the Kanto region. The ban in these prefectures took effect between Nov 25 and Dec 3, SFA added.

Poultry products that have been heat-treated to inactivate the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus according to the World Organisation for Animal Health’s guidelines are exempted from the ban, the agency said.

Japan detected its first case of the HPAI virus this season at a poultry farm in the southern prefecture of Saga on Nov 24.

On Nov 27, the virus was also detected at a poultry farm in the eastern prefecture of Ibaraki.

This came after Japan experienced its worst bird flu outbreak during the last season for the disease, which started in October 2022.

A record 17.7 million poultry birds were culled, leading to a drop in the supply of poultry and eggs and a sharp rise in their prices. Local governments and farmers also lamented the shortage of land to bury the huge number of dead chickens.

Several other countries, such as the United States, Netherlands and Germany, have also reported recent HPAI outbreaks. Singapore’s temporary poultry import restrictions apply to these countries as well, according to other circulars issued by SFA.

SFA added that meat and egg traders are now required to provide additional declarations in the veterinary health certificates accompanying their imports.

For example, they must declare that their poultry meat and meat products are not derived from birds originating from the affected Japanese prefectures to get an import permit.

SFA said it works with various stakeholders in the food industry to diversify sources of commonly consumed food, including chicken.

“This ensures that disruptions from any single source do not affect Singapore too severely, as importers can turn to alternative sources to maintain stability of our food supply,” the agency said.

SFA also encourages consumers to be flexible with their food options in the event of such disruptions. - The Straits Times/ANN

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