Poultry import from Japan halted

Taking no chances: An aerial view showing officials wearing protective suits culling chickens at a poultry farm where authorities detected highly pathogenic H5-type bird flu in Saga prefecture. — Reuters

THE city-state 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) announced in a circular recently.

The temporary ban restricts raw poultry imports from Saga and Kagoshima in the Kyushu region and from Ibaraki and Saitama in the Kanto region.

The ban in these prefectures started taking 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 exempt 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 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, the 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 the SFA.

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 the 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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