January 14, 2004



Indonesia Bird Flu Free


The Indonesian government assured its people the country is free from the recent bird flu outbreak, as poultry were not imported from the affected regions.


"We are not importing chickens from Vietnam, South Korea or Japan. Even our chicken imports are very small in number. We import only frozen chickens from the United States and very few from Thailand and Malaysia," the chairman of the Indonesian Food and Beverages Association (GAPMMI), Thomas Dharmawan said Tuesday.


In a region already alarmed by the return of SARS, there has been growing concern about the rapid spread of bird flu in Vietnam, South Korea and Japan.


With researchers saying the virus could be introduced by migrating birds, Thomas -- who in the past ran a cattle and poultry business -- said it was unlikely that chickens in Indonesia would catch the virus because the distance from the above three countries to here was too great for the birds to fly.


Separately, the director of community veterinary health of the Ministry of Agriculture, Bachtiar Moerad, told the Post that in 1992 the ministry had issued a ban on imports of poultry meat and its products from countries that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) advised against.


"The ministerial decree is still valid to this day," said Bachtiar.


But according to the OIE web site, the organization has not put Vietnam, South Korea or Japan on its blacklist.

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