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Europe bans us poultry imports

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Posted on Wed, Feb. 25, 2004
Europe bans U.S. poultry imports

BRUSSELS - (AP) -- The European Union and South Korea banned the import of all poultry products from the United States on Tuesday following the outbreak of a highly contagious strain of avian influenza in Texas. Mexico banned most U.S. poultry products.

Russia, the United States' largest poultry export market, blocked poultry imports only from Texas but said it was considering a U.S.-wide ban. The Philippines also was considering a ban.

EU Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner David Byrne said the decision cuts off imports of live chickens, turkeys and eggs. Chicken and turkey meat are also banned although the EU currently does not import any due to differences in vaccination policies.

''It is not as virulent as the outbreak in Asia, but nevertheless it's a highly contagious virus and therefore does require an immediate response from the EU,'' Byrne told reporters during a meeting of EU agriculture ministers.

The flu found in Texas is not the same strain that has killed at least 22 people in Asia, said Dr. Ron DeHaven of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it poses little threat to humans.

Mexico's federal Agriculture Department said that imports of live birds, eggs and poultry products from throughout the United States were prohibited. The only exemption is for some products subjected to heat treatment for at least 10 minutes.

Mexico imported about 160,000 tons of U.S. chicken worth nearly $100 million in 2003, making it the second-biggest international market for the meat.

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