STC Number - 50

Quarantine requirements for chicken meat

Maintained by: Australia
Raised by: Thailand
Supported by: European Union
First date raised: September 1998 G/SPS/R/12 paras. 42-45
Dates subsequently raised: October 2001 (G/SPS/R/25 para. 37)
June 2002 (G/SPS/R/27 paras. 135-137)
November 2002 (G/SPS/R/28 paras. 189-191)
April 2003 (G/SPS/R/29 paras. 60-62)
June 2003 (G/SPS/R/30 paras. 54-56)
Number of times subsequently raised: 5
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/AUS/72; G/SPS/GEN/90; G/SPS/GEN/96; see also G/SPS/R/13; G/SPS/GEN/137; G/SPS/W/107/Rev.1
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; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In September 1998, the representative of Thailand expressed concern regarding Australia's requirement for the importation of cooked chicken meat notified in G/SPS/N/AUS/72. Thailand believed the requirement was in excess of what was needed for the purpose of the protection of human or animal life or health. Furthermore, it was not viable for commercial manufacturing, increased production costs for producers and adversely affected the competitiveness of foreign products. The full text of the statement by Thailand is contained in document G/SPS/GEN/90. Thailand requested Australia to adhere to the principles of the SPS Agreement.

The EC representative stated that Australia's recommended proposal of particular temperature and time requirements created an extreme and unnecessary barrier to trade. The full text of the statement by the European Communities is contained in document G/SPS/GEN/96. Furthermore, the EC representative indicated that a complete list of relevant questions would be provided to Australia with the hope of receiving precise and prompt answers.

The representative of the OIE specified that OIE's purpose was primarily to define standards reflecting currently available scientific information. If a country or the SPS Committee itself requested an OIE intervention, this would have to be communicated to the OIE. Countries could also, in extreme cases, solicit the arbitration of the OIE, as was specified in the International Animal Health Code.

As a preliminary response, the representative of Australia stated that the import requirements were based on broad scientific principles and on scientific data. The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) had based the final heating requirements on the results of research conducted at the Central Veterinary Laboratory, Weybridge (United Kingdom) on the inactivation of infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) strain CS88, a highly virulent strain exotic to Australia. The CS88 strain was more typical of the strains currently presenting a quarantine threat to Australia and the muscle/fat/skin mixture was more representative of finished chicken meat products which would be exported to Australia than the materials used in the research referred to above. Extensive consultations had taken place with Thai and other quarantine authorities to discuss the issue and Australia remained ready to provide any further information requested. Australia was considering whether additional scientific research could usefully be conducted to enhance scientific understanding and methods of inactivation of various poultry pathogens.

In October 2001, on Australian quarantine requirements for chicken meat, the representative of Thailand noted that the Department of Livestock Development was finalising its risk analysis on Infectious Bursal Disease Virus (IBDV). A public hearing would be held before the analysis was presented to Australia. The OIE in May 2001 had agreed to conduct research on appropriate heat treatment to inactivate the IBD virus in poultry.

In June 2002, the representative of Thailand informed the Committee that in May 2002, Thailand had submitted a risk assessment on IBD virus in Thai cooked chicken meat to Australia which showed that the risk of introducing IBDV to backyard flocks through cooked chicken meat was negligible. Thailand hoped that within its new food safety mandate, the OIE would undertake work on IBD.

The representative of Australia indicated that conditions for importation of cooked chicken had come into effect in August of 1998, setting certain time and temperature cooking parameters. Thailand had applied for access for product from a certain facility, and had recently provided information. Australia would provide a response once the Thai document had been considered by an expert review group.

The representative of the OIE reiterated his request that Members submit information on IBD. Although IBD was on the OIE's work programme, the OIE needed information to be able to make progress with the work.

In November 2002, the representative of Thailand indicated that they had provided the risk analysis report on IBD virus in chicken meat to Australia, as well as to the OIE. This quantitative risk assessment evaluated the risk of introducing IBD virus into Australia's backyard flocks through the importation of cooked chicken meat products from Thailand. The report concluded that the risk of introducing IBD virus into backyard poultry in Australia was minimal. The representative of Thailand noted that his country was still waiting for a response from Australia. He requested information from the OIE on the progress made regarding this issue.

The representative of Australia noted that at its recent meeting the Australian risk analysis panel had examined the Thai document in detail. The panel had prepared technical comments and questions about aspects of the Thai risk assessment which would shortly be sent to the relevant Thai authorities.

The representative of the OIE took note of the risk analysis document, and indicated that as soon as the OIE received more information and data from Members it would be in a position to review the OIE chapter through its expert working group.

In April 2003, the representative of Thailand recalled that this issue had been raised several times since September 1998. Australia's unconventional and impractical import requirements for heat treatment of chicken meat to inactivate the IBD virus made exports commercially unviable. Australia's import risk analysis process was very complicated, unduly long and conducted without a specific timeframe. Thailand strongly urged Australia to hasten the risk analysis process which could otherwise be regarded as a trade barrier.

The representative of the European Communities stated it shared Thailand's concerns on heat treatment for IBD.

The representative of Australia recalled that the current arrangements were established in August 1998 following a science–based risk assessment. The key quarantine concern was IBD virus. Tests conducted at an independent laboratory in Weybridge, UK established the time and temperature cooking parameters for the inactivation of this virus which formed part of the current import protocol. That science had not been formally challenged. Biosecurity Australia was studying Thailand's risk analysis on cooked chicken meat, received in May 2002, along with additional information provided in January 2003. Australia aimed to complete the current risk analysis on chicken meat as soon as possible.

In June 2003, the representative of Thailand recalled that the issue of Australian import restrictions on chicken meat had been raised the first time in September 1998. Thailand had submitted scientific information to Australia, but this had not resulted in any apparent progress, and Thailand requested Australia to lift the requirements of heat treatment for IBD virus.

The representative of Australia noted that cooked chicken meat from Thailand was allowed into Australia if requirements were fulfilled. She maintained that Australia's measures were appropriate and in accordance with scientific findings.

The representative of the OIE indicated that they had considered the issue in January 2002 and that OIE had requested more and new scientific information, but no new information had yet been submitted to OIE.