North America bans EU animal imports

US and Canada impose temporary ban on imports of animals and animal products from Europe as EU extends export ban to France

The United States and Canada have imposed a temporary ban on imports of animals and animal products from the European Union after cases of foot-and-mouth were discovered in northwestern France on 13 March. Both states will also quarantine all EU meat imported since 21 February. Australia, New Zealand and Norway have joined a growing list of countries banning imports of meat and meat products from the EU.

The new US ban on animal imports will have a deep impact on exports of pork from the Netherlands and Denmark. Over 70 percent of Europe's exports of pork to the US come from Denmark.

The European Union has announced a series of emergency measures. The Standing Veterinary Committee (SVC) banned all live exports of animals from France and imposed stringent restrictions on the movement of fresh meat and milk from the affected area in France. The committee also decided to suspend imports of fresh meat from Argentina where continuous outbreaks of foot-and-mouth have been reported over the last few months.

The European Parliament is expected to debate the foot-and-mouth issue today (13 March) once the European Commission has presented its latest findings.

The first cases of foot-and-mouth disease in France were confirmed after urgent tests were ordered on six suspected animals identified over the weekend. The outbreak was on a dairy farm at Mayenne in northwestern France. This is the first time the infectious disease has been detected on mainland Europe since the outbreak in Britain three weeks ago.

Another 11 more suspected cases have been reported in the Seine-et-Marne district east of Paris and in southeast France.

All infected animals were born in France. The herd where the six infected cattle were discovered has already been destroyed and incinerated. A 3-kilometre exclusion zone has been set up around the farm and a further "surveillance parameter" of 10 kilometres.

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