EU lifts ostrich ban

CityPress - - Business - – Reuters

The EU had lifted a four-year ban on the im­port of fresh ostrich meat from South Africa af­ter an out­break of H5N2 avian flu, the coun­try’s main ex­port­ing re­gion said on Fri­day.

The 2011 out­break of the highly path­o­genic avian in­fluenza strain hit the R1 bil­lion in­dus­try, which ex­ports meat, leather and feath­ers to its main EU mar­ket.

The in­dus­try has re­cov­ered slightly with the ex­port of pro­cessed or pre­heated meat.

“Re­sum­ing ex­ports to the EU will play an im­por­tant role in in­creas­ing the num­ber of jobs in this in­dus­try, which cur­rently em­ploys more than 50 000 res­i­dents,” said Alan Winde, min­is­ter of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and tourism in the Western Cape.

About 10 000 ostriches were culled in the Klein Ka­roo and south­ern Cape re­gions in 2011, where the in­dus­try is con­cen­trated, af­ter dis­eased birds were de­tected in the area.

Out­breaks of avian flu have af­fected sev­eral coun­tries in the re­cent past, in­clud­ing China, France and the US, and are a health con­cern be­cause cer­tain vir­u­lent strains are deadly to hu­mans.

Af­ter the out­break four years ago, Fran­cois de Wet, the chair­per­son of the SA Ostrich Busi­ness Cham­ber, said the coun­try had im­proved its biose­cu­rity mea­sures, such as chlo­ri­nat­ing wa­ter and re­strict­ing the move­ment of the birds.

De Wet said that South Africa was ex­pected to re­sume fresh meat ex­ports to the EU af­ter Au­gust 26.

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