Bird Flu outbreak in Saudi leads to UAE ban on imported meat

Sheena Amos

DUBAI 25 December 2017: UAE bans poultry meat from Riyadh following outbreak of highly contagious H5N8 Bird Flu strain

Following a notification from the Gulf Early Warning Centre of the outbreak in the Azizia market in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MOCCAE, has taken precautionary measures, banning poultry meats from the Kingdom.

According to a statement precautions include a ban on the import of all kinds of domestic and wild live birds, ornamental birds, chicks, hatching eggs and non-heat-treated wastes from Saudi Arabia, as well as a ban on the import of poultry meat, non-heat-treated products and table eggs from the affected area, Riyadh.

The ministry also explained that the entry of consignments of untreated products from the affected provinces – if any – that were shipped prior to 1st December 2017 are permitted following a verification of the accompanying certificates. Thermally treated poultry products – meat and eggs – are cleared for import from Saudi Arabia, it added.

These measures reiterate the Ministry’s keenness in achieving its strategic objectives including enhancing bio-security levels and eliminating pathogens before they enter the country. In doing so, it prevents the bird flu virus and related risks and impacts on the country’s poultry health and safety, in addition to protecting public health and well-being.

MOCCAE is carefully scrutinising documentation accompanying consignments – certificate of origin, health certificate and halal certifications, among others – of food products shipped into the country. The Ministry also conducts sensory detection and ensures that the quality of the products as per their identification cards complies with the UAE standard. Samples of food products from shipments are transferred to laboratories for the necessary tests to ensure they are safe and fit to enter the country.

Bird flu strains have hit poultry flocks in several countries across the world in recent years, with some types of the disease also causing human infections and deaths. Saudi Arabia had earlier this year imposed restrictions on poultry imports from countries such as Bulgaria, in an effort to prevent the disease spreading.