Saudi Arabia has become the latest country to halt imports of French poultry on the back of bird flu fears.
The Saudi Food and Drug Authority said in a statement on its website it was temporarily banning the import of poultry meat, eggs and their by-products from a number of regions in France following the outbreak of the pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu in a backyard in Dordogne.
The regions included in the ban are Dordogne, Haute-Vienne, Landes, Gers, the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées and Lot.
The Saudi watchdog said the restrictions would remain in place until the health of livestock could be assured.
However, Christian Marinov, the director of the French Aviculture Confederation, reportedly said the ban was “of no consequence”. He the AFP newswire the restrictions do not cover Brittany or Vendee, from where French processor Groupe Doux – the country’s only poultry exporter to Saudi Arabia – ships its products.
France first confirmed the outbreak at the end of November, prompting South Korea to block exports. In December, a further seven countries including Japan, Morocco, China, Thailand, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia all followed suit. Last week, Portugal announced a temporary ban on French poultry.