Saudi Arabia suspends French imports over bird flu

AFP , Monday 18 Jan 2016

Saudi Arabia on Monday suspended the import of poultry, eggs and dairy products from seven French regions over a bird flu outbreak.

The Saudi Food and Drug Authority said the regions include France's southwestern Dordogne, where the highly virulent H5N1 strain of the virus was identified in November.

Several countries including Japan and China have already banned French poultry imports as a result.

"This temporary ban is to continue until the health status of the livestock is stable," SFDA said.

It added that poultry, eggs and dairy products that have been treated thermally or in another way to eliminate the virus are exempt from the suspension.

According to Business France, the French export promotion agency, France was the second-biggest exporter of poultry products to Saudi Arabia in 2013 and volume had risen 64 percent since 2009.

The World Health Organization says the H5N1 virus does not infect humans easily but when it does it is fatal in about 60 percent of cases.

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