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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Italian Poultry Banned to Stop Bird Flu

VedomostiA woman standing at a meat counter in Moscow. Italian poultry could soon be unavailable as a ban comes into force.
Russia banned poultry imports from Italy on Monday to prevent the spread of the bird flu virus after an outbreak in the EU member state, the Agriculture Ministry's animal and plant health watchdog said Tuesday.

The ban applies to live birds, hatching eggs, poultry meat and all poultry products not subject to thermal treatment, poultry feed and used equipment for keeping and slaughtering birds, a spokesman for the Federal Service for Veterinarian and Vegetation Sanitary Supervision said.

Italy's Health Ministry said the bird flu strain found in Italy was not dangerous to human beings.

Italian news agency ANSA quoted the ministry as saying the two recent outbreaks of the H5N2 virus had been contained. ANSA said the two outbreaks in northern Italy were isolated last week during regular bird flu checks on farms and that the affected birds had been culled.

Italian Agriculture Minister Paolo De Castro said the virus found in Italian poultry was not dangerous to human health, adding that food and agricultural-product safety controls in Italy were among the tightest in Europe.

"Russia's decision does not appear to be justified by any other reasons than commercial ones. There is no danger for consumers," De Castro said in a statement late Monday.

Russia normally bans imports of poultry after it receives official confirmation from the international animal health body, OIE. This year it has banned poultry imports from other EU members Hungary, Britain and the Czech Republic because of bird flu. It also banned meat and plant products from Poland in November 2005. Warsaw in return blocked the start of talks between Moscow and Brussels on a new strategic partnership pact, covering areas such as energy, human rights and trade.