§ Andrew George
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with her counterparts in(a) Thailand and (b) other countries in South East Asia about the recent outbreak of avian influenza in the region. 
§ Mr. Bradshaw
[holding answer 30 January 2004]: The Secretary of State has not had any discussions with her counterparts in Thailand or other countries in South East Asia. Defra, the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health have been closely monitoring the development of avian influenza in Thailand and other countries in South East Asia. The European Commission have been in constant contact with the Thai authorities and are reporting their findings to all member states.
§ Mr. Bradshaw
Outbreaks of avian influenza have been reported in Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, including the Territory of Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Under EU rules none of these countries is allowed to export live poultry or hatching eggs to the EU. Imports of poultry meat are permitted from Thailand only.124W
The risk of the avian influenza virus spreading through meat is low. However, the European Commission took action on 23 January to ban imports from Thailand of fresh/frozen poultry meat and cooked poultry meat that has not been heat treated to at least 70°C, unless it is accompanied by additional certification confirming that it was from birds slaughtered before 1 January 2004. Poultry meat products which have been cooked to 70°C or more are not considered to be a risk and may still be exported to the EU. The UK took immediate action to implement these measures in domestic law.