Food safety: Restrictions on certain poultry products from the US


Published: 20 January 2015

Following a concern about food safety, the People's Republic of China, the Republic of Korea and South Africa have restricted the import of certain poultry products from the United States. Given the volume of this trade, members owning or operating container / reefer vessels will need to take note of the development.

The development

According to certain media reporting, which the Association has been able to corroborate with its correspondents, the P.R. China has banned the import of certain US poultry and egg products as of 8 January 2015.

The specific issue appears to be that there is a concern about avian influenza that may present a risk to farmed poultry and wild birds. It follows the reported detection of the H5N8 strain in birds in Oregon and the H5N2 HPA1 in birds in California and Washington states.

The USDA had issued the attached information bulletin in relation to the issue.

Information supplied to the Association suggests that C.I.Q. Head Office in China has notified local branches to enforce the ban as of 8 January 2015.

Further information supplied by correspondents confirms that a similar ban is effective in the Republic of Korea as of 20 December 2014 and there are also restrictions in effect in South Africa.

Loss prevention advice

While this matter is likely to be the subject of discussions between respective governments, members that are carrying - or are due to carry - poultry, eggs and related products from the US to China, South Korea or South Africa (direct or indirectly) should take note.

It would be prudent to check that the cargo consigned, or to be consigned, has the necessary export and import licenses, and comes with the appropriate health certificiations.

In addition, it will be necessary to check whether the cargo is likely to subject to any restriction from being brought in to China, South Korea or South Africa at this time.

Further risk managament

Members will recall that in 2014, Russia imposed restrictions on certain food products from the European Union and this led to some issues for cargoes underway or about to be consigned for shipment.

That event, as well as this most recent event, indicate that there are both public health concerns as well as political issues that can, at short notice, impact the shipment of food cargoes.

Members engaged in such trade are well advised to carefully monitor developments which could impact shipments and furthermore to consider incorporating liberty clauses in to charterparties and contracts of carriage (including bills of lading) that address the situation should a cargo suddenly no longer be acceptable for import in a particular country.

It is likely that, going forward, such issues will continue to pose challenges for all those concerned in the shipment of food products.

Should members have a vessel specific enquiry, they are asked to contact their usual Skuld business unit.

For further information, members are asked to contact the Association.

The Association is grateful to its correspondents in China, Korea and South Africa for assistance with this update.