August 7, 2015 / 9:17 AM / 4 years ago

EU lifts 4 year fresh ostrich meat ban from S.Africa

A herd of ostriches stands on a street after breaking out of their enclosure outside Oudtshoorn, some 450 kilometres (279 miles) east of Cape Town. REUTERS/Alex Grimm

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - The European Union has lifted a four-year ban on the import of fresh ostrich meat from South Africa following an outbreak of H5N2 avian flu, the country’s main exporting region said on Friday.

The 2011 outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza strain hit the 1 billion rand ($80 million) industry, which exports meat, leather and feathers to its main EU market.

The industry has recovered slightly with the export of processed or pre-heated meat.

“Resuming exports to the EU will play an important role in increasing the number of jobs in this industry, which currently employs over 50,000 residents,” said Alan Winde, minister of economic development in the Western Cape provincial government.

Around 10,000 ostriches were culled in the Klein Karoo and southern Cape regions in 2011, where the industry is concentrated, after diseased birds were detected in the area.

Outbreaks of avian flu has affected several countries in the recent past, including China, France and the United States, and is a health concern because certain virulent strains are deadly to humans.

Francois de Wet, chairman of the South African Ostrich Business Chamber, said after the outbreak four years ago, the country improved its bio-security measures, such as chlorinating water and restricting movement of the birds.

De Wet said the South Africa is expected to resume fresh meat exports to the EU after August 26.

$1 = 12.7190 rand

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