After several countries in northern Europe, France has confirmed on November 26, 2021 the first outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) on its territory.
All health management, protection and surveillance of the territory required by the European Union have been applied and everything has been done to prevent further spread of the virus.
In order to allow exports to be maintained for meat, poultry meat products, egg products and avian genetics, the French authorities have initiated actions with the authorities of importing third countries. The objective is to provide the necessary information in complete transparency, and to ensure compliance with the international standards of the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) and the provisions provided for in the sanitary certificates and protocols in place between the France and these countries.
Three main actions are thus taken to preserve exports:
- Defuse untimely blockages of goods;
- Obtain recognition and application of the zoning principle;
- Promote the recognition of free compartments.
When a commodity cannot leave France (for example, due to a refusal to issue an import permit to the operator by the third country), or when it is blocked on arrival in the third country, the DGAl, with the support of agricultural counselors at the embassy, is doing everything possible to provide information to the health authorities allowing the release of exports.
The principle of zoning
Zoning applies to animal subpopulations defined primarily by geographic criteria. It allows, on the basis of these geographical criteria, to maintain exports from disease-free areas. This is a basic principle of the OIE Terrestrial Code in the chapter on influenza. In addition, when a free trade agreement is negotiated by the European Union with a third country, the SPS chapter (sanitary and phytosanitary) includes by default a point on the zoning principle which is therefore binding on both parties. . The third country does not always recognize the zoning of the exporting country (for influenza: protection zone= 3km around the outbreak and surveillance zone= 10km around the outbreak), and negotiations can lead to compromises. For avian influenza, the most frequent agreement concerns zoning at the department level.
Details of the zoning measures implemented in France are available on the following page:
The principle of compartmentalisation
Compartmentalization applies to animal subpopulations defined mainly not by geographic criteria, but by common management and husbandry practices based on biosecurity (recommendations specified in Chapter 4.3 of the OIE Terrestrial Code). The validation of the compartmentalisation for a group of establishments then defined as a “compartment” makes it possible to certify the free character of its own holdings regarding avian influenza even when the status of the country is not free. It provides health guarantees regarding the preservation of its free status (even theoretically if the compartment is located in a non-free geographical area).
Compartmentalization seems to be an interesting process in the context of a disease that is endemic or has a strong presence in the territory. It also has as an important corollary a strong technical and financial investment of the operators.
In France, there are 3 compartments approved (by the EU level) for avian genetics under European regulation EU 616/2009 and one compartment recognized (only by France, no existing UE references ) for the production of poultry meat.
List of approved compartments
List of recognized compartments