EU parliament raises concerns over poultry meat imports from China
Jim Allister from Member of the European Parliament (MEP) has expressed concerns over the rigour of health checks carried out prior to the lifting of an import ban on poultry meat from China.
Imports of poultry meat from China to the EU were banned in 2002 because of bird flu. However, in July 2008, the EU agreed to re-admit treat-heated poultry meat from Shandong Province, on the basis that it now meets EU health and welfare standards.
Against this background, Mr Allister has been pressing Commission vice-president Siim Kallas as to just how rigorous the EU had been in allowing itself to be persuaded to re-start imports from China.
While Commissioner Kallas stressed that public health rules applying to these exports from China ensured "an equivalent level of protection" to those in the EU, there are concerns over the checks made.
Mr Allister said that it turns out that exports to the EU have been recommenced on the basis of just three fact-finding missions, the most recent being back in 2006.
They are opening our market in the latter half of 2008 on the basis of stale inspections and with no further inspection intended until 2009 and he believes this is not what EU consumers want.
Mr Allister commented that imports are only supposed to come from plants in Shandong Province and how do they know that the imported meat in fact all originates there, and whether there will be the same ratio of production tested for EU health standards as would apply within the EU in their own plants. However, no answers were obtained from China.