Veterinary experts from across the EU have endorsed temporary safeguard measures suggested by the EC’s Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCOFCAH) to allow for the safe import of live pigs from the US and Canada.
At a meeting on June 6, it was agreed that live pigs from these countries entering the EU would be tested for Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) in order to protect the European pig industry.
Emerging PED viruses are circulating in North America affecting pigs and causing major losses, particularly to the US pig industry. The USA and Canada are both authorised to export live pigs to the EU, and 900 pigs with a high genetic value were imported in 2013.
The current health rules for import of live animals from USA and Canada are already very stringent and include quarantine. Given the current situation, the US and Canadian authorities have informed the EU that no consignments of live pigs are currently scheduled to be dispatched to the EU.
SCOFCAH say that pig semen most likely poses a negligible risk of transmission of the viruse, and that standard risk mitigating measures on the import of semen (quarantine and absence of clinical sign of disease in the donor animal) are already in place, mitigating any possible risk.
The measures follow discussions held last week during the World Assembly of the World Organisation for Animal Health and complement temporary import requirements agreed last month on pig blood products that may be used for feeding piglets.
The EC has also asked the European Food Safety Authority to carry out a scientific opinion on emerging PED viruses that will enable a more thorough review of the disease situation and risk mitigation measures.
Member States were also reminded of the need to strengthen biosecurity at farm level.