US Poultry Show Support on Foreign Efforts

US - The US poultry industry this week came out in praise of the efforts made by the the U.S. government to resolve the longstanding issue of the European Union banning U.S. poultry. By making this trade issue a priority agenda item for the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC), it is apparent that top government officials believe resolution is possible.
calendar icon 5 June 2008
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However, following the European Commission issuance of its final draft proposal of conditions required to regain EU approval of U.S. poultry, it is clear that the issue is far from being settled.

U.S. officials have considered a solution that would truly allow meaningful market access for U.S. poultry into the European Union to be an important gauge for future success of the TEC process. The proposed EC regulation issued this week on U.S. poultry imports contains several conditions, mainly governing the application and use of acceptable anti-microbial/pathogen reduction treatments (PRT) in poultry processing, with a “sunset” provision for the regulation to be reviewed in two years.

The regulation also contains provisions requiring carcasses treated with a PRT to undergo a rinse, and a requirement for product receiving such treatments to be labeled.

All three U.S. organizations are very disappointed in the EU’s draft regulation and believe that these conditions are unnecessary and unacceptable. Further, the conditions under which U.S. poultry could be exported to the EU are essentially unchanged from those discussed by both sides four years ago. As written, the regulation renders any progress in gaining access to the EU effectively meaningless.

In earlier discussions on access to the EU for U.S. poultry, the EU approved the use of several PRTs as alternatives to chlorinated water, which is widely used in the U.S. and has been shown to be safe and effective, but is prohibited by the EU.

Since the EU has approved the use of these alternative PRTs, we believe that the additional rinse requirement and the “sunset” provision in the draft regulation are unnecessary.

Furthermore, the sunset provision would serve to dissuade U.S. poultry companies from making the necessary modifications to their plants in order to export to the EU for what could be only two years of business. In short, our organizations agree that these conditions would not only impose wasteful and costly restrictions on the U.S. industry from a competitive standpoint, but could also compromise a company’s ability to meet the USDA’s stringent pathogen-reduction standards under HACCP. “We’re very disappointed with this recent turn of events,” said Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council. “It is unfortunate that the two sides have been unable to resolve these technical issues that have kept U.S. poultry out of the EU for the last 11 years.”

“We believe the conditions in the Commission’s draft regulation are onerous and intended for the express purpose of continuing to keep the European market closed to U.S. poultry,” said Bill Roenigk, senior vice president of the National Chicken Council. “By any measure, our poultry is safe and wholesome.”

“The USDA inspection system is one of the most strict in the world. Only poultry produced under the stringent requirements of HACCP, pathogen-reduction requirements, and other science-based standards is allowed to enter the marketplace,” said Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation. “For the EU to impose conditions that are above and beyond USDA requirements is redundant and unnecessary.”

The U.S. poultry industry stands firmly behind its products, which have been enjoyed by hundreds of millions of consumers in the United States and around the world for decades, including Europe until 1997.

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