GAINESVILLE, Ga. — As of Oct. 1, 2023, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced that it has put a trade restriction on poultry and poultry products coming from France, the European Poultry Trade Region (Great Britain is not included), Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
In a statement, APHIS said “The restrictions are based on the World Organization for Animal Health’s definition of poultry and are the result of France’s decision to vaccinate commercial meat ducks against HPAI. France’s decision to vaccinate presents a risk of introducing HPAI into the United States. Some items for consumption like ducks, duck eggs, and unmitigated/untreated duck products have restrictions on them as well. The United States prohibits any poultry that has been infected with Avian Influenza or has vaccinated for the disease from entering the country.”
APHIS added that, “Vaccination of poultry against HPAI virus may mask HPAI virus circulating in poultry. Vaccinated birds may not show signs of HPAI infection, which could lead to the export of infected live animals or virus-contaminated products to the United States.”
France has been hit hard by avian influenza. Reuters reported that there has been a record spread of the virus worldwide and France badly affected by the disease.
Avian influenza can cause harm to a country’s food supply and cause an uprise in prices for poultry meat and eggs. The French government feared that virus could mutate and become a problem for human transmission. Furthermore, they introduced mandatory vaccinations for ducks.
France became the first country in the European Union to have mandatory vaccinations. On Oct. 2, 2023, French Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau was in attendance as the first shots were administered on a farm in Landes, France. Fesneau said, “it’s a moment of optimism, we have the feeling of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The French Agriculture Ministry said in a statement, “This means that a total of 64 million ducks at 2,700 farms will need to be vaccinated over a year for a total cost of nearly 100 million euros ($105 million), of which 85 percent will be financed by the state.”
Along with the U.S., Fesneau said that Japan “was also still reluctant to accept French poultry after vaccination” despite serious conversations. Ducks will be the primary focus for vaccinations considering that they make up for 8 percent of the French poultry supply, and are very vulnerable to avian influenza.