Quarantine Standards for
Cooked Chicken Meat from Thailand
of Background on Development of the Quarantine Standard
issue of Australian quarantine standards for chicken first arose in 1990
when the Australian government began considering the importation of
chicken meat from
response to domestic concerns about the introduction of Newcastle
Disease and Infectious Bursal Disease Virus (IBDV), the Australian
Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) began a risk assessment on
cooked chicken. It deferred
a risk assessment of uncooked
chicken meat pending completion of the first assessment.
1995, AQIS adopted the results of a 1988 study of IBDV conducted at the
’s Central Veterinary Laboratory as the
basis for determining “safe” cooking times and temperatures.
The decision met with strong opposition from the Australian
Chicken Growers Council who argued that the experiment underestimated
the risks associated with commercial cooking processes.
For their part, Thai chicken exporters complained that the
Australian heat treatment requirements were excessively stringent and
commercially impracticable. The
requirements would put Thai cooked chicken products at a competitive
disadvantage by unnecessarily raising production costs and destroying
the nutritional value of cooked meat.
resolve the issue, AQIS commissioned the Central Veterinary Laboratory
to conduct a new test on the heat inactivation of IBDV.
experiment was completed in 1997. It
confirmed that the temperature/time parameters adopted in 1995 readily
inactivated Newcastle Disease Virus, but it also found that these
parameters would not totally inactivate the strain of IBDV used in the
tests. Thus, in November
announced that it would permit imports of
cooked chicken meat from
that was processed at core temperature/time
parameters between 70°C for 143 minutes and 80°C for 114 minutes.
Again the decision met with protest from both Thai chicken
exporters and the Australian chicken industry, and AQIS asked the
British laboratory to carry out yet another round of tests.
This set of test
results, submitted to AQIS in mid-1998, diverged greatly from previous
ones. Using different IBDV
strains and a different medium for suspending the virus, the new study
found that IBDV was unexpectedly resistant to heat inactivation at
temperatures lower than 74°C. Based
on these new test results, AQIS again revised the minimum core
temperatures/time parameters, requiring chicken meat to be cooked at
between 74°C for 125 minutes and 80°C for 125 minutes.
have made a number of requests to export both
cooked and uncooked chicken meat to
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) began considering
the proposal to import chicken meat in 1990.
However, the Australian Veterinary Association and domestic
poultry producers voiced concern over the introduction of Newcastle
Disease and Infectious Bursal Disease Virus (IBDV) through the imported
meat. Either could pose a
great threat to
’s poultry industry and native bird
populations. In response to
these concerns, AQIS began an assessment of the risk of importing cooked
chicken meat. It deferred
assessment of uncooked meat pending completion of the cooked meat
Australia is not now a principal market for Thai chicken products, Thai
suppliers could potentially capture 10 percent of the Australian cooked
chicken market, worth about 920 million baht (A$ 40 million), during
just the first few years of exports.
The Australian poultry market is estimated at 46 billion baht (A$
2 billion) annually. Annual
consumption of chicken meat is now 27 kg per person compared with the
consumption of beef and veal (40.0 kg per person), sheep meat (16.8 kg
per person) and pork meat (18.4 kg per person).
Based on the present trend, poultry meat could overtake beef and
veal as the Australians' most preferred meat within the next ten years.
Cooked chicken meat accounts for 20 percent of the market and
sales are growing 10 to 20 percent per year.
producers particularly saw potential for
to fast food chains such as KFC and
McDonald’s and big supermarket chains such as Coles, Woolworth and
Safeway. The fast food
chains may be interested in sourcing cheap precooked chicken meat from
, while supermarkets may be interested in
importing Thai chicken products to satisfy their lower-income customers.
was the world’s largest exporter of poultry
meat followed by the European Union (where
accounts for 60% of the exports and the
, 25%) and
is the largest net exporter in
and Hong export more than
, but they also import more than they export.
(See table in Appendix)
Bursal Disease is important from an economic viewpoint because it could
cause huge losses for chicken producers.
IBDV is highly contagious and remains infectious for several
months in the poultry house environment.
To eradicate the virus, a poultry house requires effective
cleansing and disinfecting. IBDV
is most prevalent in
; the Office International des Epizooties (OIE)
1997 yearbook reported cases of the disease in
proposed cooking regime does not apply to domestically processed chicken
products on the grounds that the country is free from IBDV.
mid-1995, the Australian government decided "in-principle" to
allow imports of cooked chicken that had been processed under specified
temperature/time parameters proven to inactivate the disease viruses.
To determine these specific parameters, AQIS considered a range
of studies and then adopted a 1988 study of IBDV conducted by Dr. Dennis
Alexander of the Central Veterinary Laboratory in the
study, commissioned by General Foods poultry, New Zealand, recommended
70°C for 90 minutes and 80°C for 14.4 minutes for the inactivation of
1996, AQIS published a draft protocol that set out core temperature/time
levels for processing chicken meat:
for 95 minutes or
for 65 minutes or
for 44 minutes or
for 30 minutes or
for 21 minutes or
for 15 minutes
reaction to AQIS’s draft protocol, the Australian Chicken Growers
Council argued that AQIS’s risk assessment underestimated the risks
associated with commercial cooking processes.
For their part, Thai chicken exporters complained that the
cooking regime proposed by the Australian government was commercially
impracticable. The specified temperature/time parameters would not only
unnecessarily raise production costs, but also would affect the quality
of the cooked meat, thereby reducing the competitiveness of their
products in the Australian market.
issue was brought up for discussion in the Thai-Australian Joint
Commission. Subsequently, in
early 1997, the Australian government commissioned its own test by the
Central Veterinary Laboratory.
April 1997, a delegation from AQIS and the Australian poultry industry
was sent to inspect four Thai processing facilities that had applied for
the sanitary certification required for exporting to
of the facilities met the Australian sanitary requirements; all were
told that they needed to improve their slaughter and processing
regulations provide that The Australian
Standard for Hygienic Production of Poultry Meat for Human Consumption
will be used as a guide in the assessment of slaughter and processing
establishments for approval to process product for export to
. The AQIS Code
of Hygienic Practice for the Production of Heat Treated Refrigerated
Foods Packaged for Extended Shelf Life will be used as a guide in
evaluating the processing and handling of product for export to
July 1997, amid mounting protest from domestic poultry producers, the
Australian government delayed a decision to open its poultry market to
foreign imports until the Central Veterinary Laboratory completed its
second trial and submitted the results to AQIS.
threatened to boycott US$ 1.2 billion dairy
and meat exports from
in retaliation for a continued ban on cooked
chicken meat imports. The
Australian Dairy Industry Council called on the Australian government to
abide by the WTO's rules on non-tariff barriers and to lift quarantine
barriers on imports of cooked chicken meat to escape the boycott.
National Party leader Tim Fischer suggested the Australian
government place a tariff on imported cooked chicken meat as a
transitional arrangement, which WTO provisions allow.
7 November 1997
, the Australian government announced a
decision to allow imports of cooked chicken meat from
processed under the following core
parameters were based on the Central Veterinary Laboratory’s new test
results, which confirmed that the existing temperature/time parameters
readily inactivated Newcastle Disease Virus but would not totally
inactivate the strain of IBDV used in the tests.
protests continued from both Thai chicken exporters and the
Australian chicken industry, and AQIS asked
the Central Veterinary Laboratory to carry out yet another round of
tests. The test results,
submitted to AQIS in mid 1998, indicated that IBDV was unexpectedly
resistant to heat inactivation at temperatures lower than 74°C.
These test results differed from the previous study because in
the second test Central Veterinary Laboratory used different virus
strains and a different medium for suspending the virus.
Based on these new test results,
announced in June 1998 a revision of the
minimum core temperatures/time parameters as follows:
for 165 minutes or
for 158 minutes or
for 152 minutes or
for 145 minutes or
for 138 minutes or
for 132 minutes or
for 125 minutes
notified the WTO on
June 17, 1998
that it intended to put the new standards in
August 10, 1998
Appendix for the WTO notification G/SPS/N/AUS/72).
In response to this
submitted a statement that
questioned the need for the stringent requirements imposed by
noted that the data on which
the standard was based was not realistic.
The most likely strain of the IBDV virus can be deactivated at
much lower temperatures than the regulations required and it was
extremely unlikely that birds infected with the more virulent strain of
the virus could be exported since they would die before being
slaughtered. The Australian
standard also does not take into account the preventive measures that
can be taken in exporting countries.
said that if there is to be a
new standard, it should be set by Office International des
Epizooties (OIE), (
’s complete comments are
attached in the Appendix.) At
September 15-16, 1998
meeting of the WTO Committee
on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, the European Communities said
that the Australian standard was more restrictive than necessary.
(See Appendix for WTO document G/SPS/GEN/96, 25
September 1998.) The
in its 1998 report on foreign trade barriers, National Trade Estimates
report, said that:
Government of Australia limits livestock and poultry imports through
quarantine and health restrictions.
For some of these, the Australian Government has not completed a
risk assessment that would provide the WTO-required scientific basis for
imposing such restrictions. The
Federal Government decided to lift the ban on cooked chicken imports
believes the recommended temperature/time requirements applicable to the
treatment of processed cooked poultry meat are so extreme as to
a meeting in September 1998, the Thai National Sanitary and
Phytosanitary Committee instructed the Livestock Department of the
Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to conduct its own risk
assessment of possible IBDV-contamination in the production of cooked
chicken. The assessment is
now underway and is expected to be completed in April 1999.
It is designed to account for IBDV prevention programs at the
farm level; incidence of IBDV infection in Thailand; risk management for
transporting chickens from poultry farms to slaughter houses; and
quality assurance programs used by Thai chicken processing plants,
including heat treatment, packaging, and shipment methods for cooked
and the Central Veterinary Laboratory arbitrarily assumed that the CS88
strain of IBDV, the very virulent strain, was prevalent in
although so far, no research has been done to identify which IBDV
strains exist in
heat inactivation measures recommended by the AQUIS are not the only
ways to deal with IBDV. According
to Professor Daral Jackwood, an
expert on IBDV, the disease control used most often is vaccination of
breeder flocks. Using this
method, maternal antibodies are transferred to chicks and thereby
protect the chicks for the first two critical weeks of life, a time when
infection by IBDV causes the most immune suppression.
Another study conducted by the
and Agricultural Science also confirms that protection of chickens from
IBDV can be achieved through a breeder vaccination program, supplemented
by effective biosecurity measures (control of people, equipment and
vehicles on the farm) and an effective broiler vaccination program.
Moreover, regular ante-mortem and post-mortem inspection at the
farm level can ensure that each batch of source birds is in good health
before being transported to slaughterhouses.
the processing stage, a one week quarantine is sufficient to ensure that
the birds are IBDV-free because chickens infected with IBDV will
normally die within 4-5 days. Cooked
chicken meat destined for
may even be separately processed and stored.
Quality assurance programs such as HACCP introduced by Thai
processing plants should also prevent exposure of cooked products to
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in coordination with the Ministry of
Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives’ Department
of Livestock, has led the Thai government's effort to address the
’s restrictions on chicken imports.
is a relatively small market in comparison to
other major markets such as
and the EU, the issue has not been placed
high on either Thai or Australian government agendas.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is charged with promoting
's relations with foreign countries, certainly
does not want to see bilateral relationships between
soured by this single issue.
The Ministry of Commerce currently is exploring market
for other agricultural products, and the
Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is now implementing a
Thai-Australian MOU on agricultural cooperation (signed during the
Australian Prime Minister's official visit in April, 1998).
extended A$160 million in aid to
during the 1997 financial crisis.
Broiler Processing Exporters Association is exploring the possibility of
asking the Thai government to impose a selective boycott on some of
Australian diary and meat exports to
or to delay importation of lupin seeds and
skim milk. An expanded
overseas market means an increase in demand for chickens to be processed
for exports. The Association
has also heard of reported cases of Blue Tongue disease in
, an animal disease that is exotic to
, and is considering whether that might be a
grounds for restricting Australian beef imports.
Animal feed companies will benefit indirectly from increased
exports; they can expect their sales to increase as a result of growing
demand for feed grains from chicken growers.
Thai Chicken Growers Association represents the producers and the
Thai Feed Mill Association represents the animal feed companies.
The Board of Trade of Thailand is represented on several
governmental committees. It
acts as the voice of business, pointing out concerns and offering
opinions and recommendations on behalf of the private sector to the
Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce will not want to see commercial
strained as a result of any failure of the
Thai and Australian governments to settle this problem.
Board of Trade of Thailand acts as the voice of business, pointing out
concerns and offering opinions and recommendations on behalf of the
private sector to the government. The
Board is represented on several governmental committees.
The Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce seeks to maintain good
commercial relations between
and does not want the Thai and Australian
governments’ failure to settle a problem to strain relations.
the Australian Chicken Growers Council (ACGC),
with the supported of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), has
actively lobbied against proposals to import foreign chicken meat on the
grounds that there is a high risk of importing Newcastle Disease and
IBDV into the country. The
process of import risk analysis carried out by AQIS, although based on
scientific procedures, also allowed participation by stakeholders,
including the industry concerned. The
scientific process has been susceptible to pressure particularly from
Australian Chicken Meat Federation, which represents major chicken meat
processors, has not been active in the lobby against chicken meat
imports. Some of the
Federation’s members have been increasing their capacity and may even
be looking to export opportunities.
Imports of chicken meat will help assure a good, inexpensive
supply of meat crucial to producing an internationally competitive
final decision on quarantine will be made by AQIS.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) can influence
the decision-making process to some extent.
DFAT is in charge of ensuring that
’s trade policy is in line with its WTO
commitments. Deputy Prime
Minister and Minister for Trade Tim Fischer, leader of the National
Party, was fully aware that Australia could not resist the global
liberalization trend when he suggested that his country introduce
appropriate safeguard actions such as a tariff or quota restriction on
foreign chicken imports on a temporary and reducing basis.
It is unclear whether he can gain support from other party
members for this cause because his party has a constituency in rural
Australian government may need to provide adjustment assistance to help
the domestic chicken industry to adjust to the change in market
conditions that chicken meat imports will bring.
It may also look at export opportunities as an alternative way to
help the industry. In either
case, the government has to work hard and closely with the industry to
help domestic producers become more competitive.
According to an international benchmarking study in 1997,
lags behind other major chicken producers
both in terms of price competitiveness and efficiency.
's quarantine policy also affects other major
poultry exporters, including the EU (especially France and
), the US and
USA Poultry and Egg Export Council and the Danish Poultry Exporters
Association are two groups that advise their government’s on issues
affecting their exports.
is also a strong free-trade supporters as
well as a chicken exporter.
Bangkok Post and the following newspapers in Australia may have an
interest in the story: The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and the
Daily Telegraph in New South Wales, The Age and the Herald Sun in
Victoria, The Courier-Mail in Queensland, The Advertiser in South
Australia, The Times in Western Australia, The Mercury in Tasmania,
Alice Spring News in North Territory and The Canberra Times in Canberra.