Philippines bans poultry imports from Belgium, France to halt bird flu spread

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MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines’ department of agriculture said on Tuesday it has imposed an indefinite ban on imports of poultry and related products, including wild birds, from Belgium and France following a bird flu outbreak there.

“We’re doing this to protect the health of our local poultry population as well as poultry workers and consumers since H5N1 is a virus that can be transmitted to humans by infected animals,” Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel said in a statement.

Bird flu, which is carried by migrating wild birds and can then be transmitted between farms, has ravaged flocks around the globe in recent years, disrupting supply, pushing up food prices and raising concern of a risk of transmission to humans.

France and Belgium, which share a border, reported the bird flu outbreak in their bird populations to the World Organization for Animal Health in November and December, respectively.

The Philippines’ import ban will also prevent traders from bringing in Belgian and French poultry products including poultry meat, day-old chicks, hatching eggs, and poultry semen into the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture said.

In 2023, the Philippines imported 426,620 metric tons of poultry meat, 3.78% higher than the previous year, with Belgium accounting for 0.59% and France 0.01%.

(This story was refiled to add the ‘%’ sign in the last paragraph)

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)