STC Number - 225

Restrictions on US poultry

Maintained by: Mexico
Raised by: United States of America
Supported by: Canada
First date raised: June 2005 G/SPS/R/37/Rev.1, paras. 26-29
Dates subsequently raised: March 2006 (G/SPS/R/40, paras. 41-43)
Number of times subsequently raised: 1
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/MEX/200
Products covered: 0207 Meat and edible offal, of the poultry of heading 01.05, fresh, chilled or frozen.
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Animal health; Food safety; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization; Zoonoses; Pest or Disease free Regions / Regionalization; Equivalence
Status: Resolved
Date reported as resolved: 16/10/2013

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2005, the United States stated that Mexico was banning imports of poultry and poultry products from an entire US state in which cases of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) had been reported in some areas. Mexico also required avian influenza (AI) testing for layer and broiler flocks regardless of whether or not AI had been reported. Only two subtypes of AI (H5 and H7) had been found to mutate into the highly pathogenic forms of the disease. Low pathogenic strains of AI did not cause systemic disease and had not been shown to be of consequence for animal health or food safety. The OIE did not recommend any trade restrictions on poultry and poultry products when cases of low pathogenic strains of AI of non-H5 and H7 subtypes were reported and only limited measures for low pathogenic strains of the H5 and H7 subtypes. The relevant scientific evidence showed that the LPAI virus did not appear in the muscle tissue of an infected chicken and that neither fresh meat nor eggs imported from regions affected by low pathogenic AI posed a risk of transmitting the disease. Given the scientific evidence underpinning the recently-adopted changes in the relevant international standard, the United States encouraged Mexico to modify its import restrictions and testing requirements.

Canada indicated that in March 2004, Mexico had banned the importation of poultry and its products from all of Canada in response to the findings of high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in British Colombia. Canada had kept all trading partners fully informed of the control measures it had imposed to limit the outbreak to British Colombia. Unlike many of its trading partners, Mexico had not regionalized its measures to apply to British Colombia only. Canada had now been free of HPAI for over one year and had provided all the information requested by Mexico to verify this status in accordance with OIE guidelines. Consistent with the OIE, the majority of Canada's trading partners had removed their measures against Canadian poultry. Canada called upon Mexico to do the same.

Mexico explained that since May 1994, when low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) had been detected in Mexico, specific SPS measures had been applied to prevent exotic subtypes and control and eradicate the only subtype identified, H5N2. Mexican Official Standard NOM-44-ZOO-1995, which covered any subtype of avian influenza (AI), both low and high pathogenic strains, had been published in 1995. In the United States, various subtypes of low and high pathogenic strains had been officially identified, none of which, with the exception of one, existed in the Mexican poultry sector. The sanitary requirements established by the Mexican legislation in the domestic poultry sector were equivalent to those applied for the export of poultry and poultry products originating in the states affected by AI in the United States. However, the sanitary measures aimed at ensuring epidemiological surveillance and monitoring of the transport of poultry and poultry products applied in the affected states of the United States were not equivalent to those implemented in the Mexican poultry sector. As the risk of transmission of AI was particularly high in live poultry and less in fresh poultry products and by-products, importation of some poultry products from the quarantined states was allowed. Mexico was continuing to analyze the technical information provided by the United States with a view to the opening up of exports of poultry and poultry products. This additional information had been provided by the USDA during the first quarter of 2005.

Mexico recalled that the OIE in May 2005 adopted regulations (Chapter 2.17.12: AI, Terrestrial Animal Health Code) that stipulated that all H7 and H5 subtypes of AI viruses, in both its high and low pathogenic forms, were notifiable as well as any AI virus with an intravenous pathogenicity index (IVPI) greater than 1.2. These regulations also stipulated that a country, zone or compartment could be recognized as free from the notifiable high and low pathogenic forms of AI virus. In accordance with Article 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3 of the SPS Agreement, Mexico had established the health requirements for exporting poultry and poultry by-products from and originating in areas free of notifiable AI viruses or free only of highly pathogenic notifiable AI viruses. Mexico currently allowed imports of poultry, poultry products and by-products from the United States, except for birds and some products from the states affected by a subtype of AI. Regarding Canada, Mexico explained that following an outbreak of highly pathogenic AI of the H7N3 subtype in British Colombia, the province had been quarantined and technical information requested concerning the outbreak. That same month, Mexico had received information identifying the AI virus in ducks and in geese as low pathogenic. In June 2005, it had received information identifying the low pathogenicity virus of the subtype H3, also in British Colombia, and would carry out an assessment of the health situation in respect of AI in British Colombia.

In March 2006, the United States expressed appreciation that a bilateral agreement with Mexico in August 2005 had resulted in the removal of bans on US poultry in October 2005. However, in January 2006 Mexico had published a final measure that would modify the existing import conditions previously agreed upon. This final measure had not been notified to the SPS Committee. The United States requested Mexico to notify this final measure and delay its application while allowing Members sufficient time to comment on the measure before its implementation.

Mexico indicated that a draft amendment to the 2004 Mexican regulation had been published in notification G/SPS/N/MEX/200, for which Mexico had provided a period for comments by Members. Mexico had received comments, inter alia, from the US Department of Agriculture. This notification indicated that the date of entry into force was proposed as the day following publication of the final regulation. The final regulation had been published on 30 January 2006 and had been notified to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) contact point on the same day. However, Mexico had decided to delay the entry into force of the measure for 60 days, meaning that the regulation would come into force in April 2006.

Mexico further reported that following a meeting on 8 December 2005 between Mexican and US officials, the National Health Service authorized the use of the Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) technique and equivalent mechanisms to validate different types of AI. In Mexico, only the AI subtype H5N2, a low pathogen type, had been detected and it was important for Mexico to avoid the introduction of any other types of AI.