The United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has raised concerns that the spread of bird flu is leading governments to ban poultry imports from countries free of the disease.

It said: “Import bans on poultry that do not distinguish between infected and non-infected countries are contrary to the spirit” of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Office International des Épizooties world animal health organisation and FAO standards.

“Countries arbitrarily banning the import of poultry products from non-infected countries are increasing the vulnerability of international global markets to price shocks,” it added, noting the meat trade was already hampered by BSE and foot-and-mouth disease-related restrictions.