Papua New Guinea has initiated an overnight ban on all imports of Australian raw poultry citing the fact that the meat poses a health risk to consumers.
Australian poultry exports to Papua New Guinea in 2013-14 were worth $20.5 million making it the highest value export market for Australian chicken products, the Australian Department of Agriculture said. Australia only exports a small share of production, 4%, due to high local demand for poultry which is Australia’s most consumed meat.
The Australian Poultry Industry has reacted in shock to the ban and has called for an immediate resumption of trade. Andreas Dubs, executive director of the Australian Chicken Meat Federation, said the ban will directly impact Australian processors and exporters. “As soon as you ban something like that it creates a real problem for those who plan to export and those who have containers on the water,” he said.
The Australian Chicken Meat Federation has denied claims Australian poultry poses a health risk to consumers but concerns were raised about imports containing Campylobacter. “It’s a well-known fact that all chicken potentially has Campylobacter because it’s a natural organism that is in the guts of chicken so it can end up on chicken meat,” Dubs said. “It certainly isn’t known as a reason for not accepting chicken meat in international trade”.
In a statement, the Department said maintaining market access to Papua New Guinea is a key priority of the Australian Government and it will work with Papua New Guinea authorities to “provide the assurances they require to re-instate trade as quickly as possible.”