Quarantine Standards for
Cooked Chicken Meat from Thailand
paper was researched and written to fulfill the M.A. project requirement
for the Monterey Institute of International Studies’ Master of Arts in
Commercial Diplomacy. For more information about the Commercial
Diplomacy program and the M.A. project requirement, please visit www.commercialdiplomacy.org.
This project was completed to fulfill the requirements of the
Monterey Institute of International Studies’ Master of Arts in
Commercial Diplomacy degree.
For the purpose of this project, I assume the role of government
relations officer of the Thai Broiler Processing Exporters Association.
In this fictitious capacity, I have been charged with developing a
strategy for eliminating a non-tariff barrier created as a result of
Australia’s excessively stringent quarantine standards for cooked
chicken meat imported from Thailand.
I chose this topic for two reasons. First, as a major exporter of
agricultural and food products, Thailand is more and more concerned with
the increased use of quarantine requirements and health standards to
protect domestic producers, particularly in developed countries.
Thailand looks to the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and
Phytosanitary Measures to prevent such misuse.
Second, Australia’s quarantine standards are now a pressing
problem for Thai chicken exporters. They have been seeking access to the
Australian market for more than a decade, and they already have sunk
significant resources into complying with Australia's standards,
including improving processing facilities. Moreover, they fear that
unjustified quarantine standards on cooked meat might set a precedent
that would make it easier for the Australian government to adopt equally
stringent quarantine standards when it begins considering standards for
fresh frozen chicken imports. The addition of an overly stringent
standard on fresh frozen chicken would effectively keep Thai chicken
exports out of Australia.
I thank Professor Geza Feketekuty, my project advisor, for his
guidance. I also thank Professor Daral Jackwood, an Ohio State
University expert on poultry diseases, for sharing her invaluable
knowledge of infectious bursal disease virus. Without their helpful
advice, my project would not have been a success.
paper lays out a strategy for how the Thai Broiler Processing Exporters
Association can persuade the Australian government to lower its current
core temperature/time parameters for the heat treatment of cooked
chicken imported from Thailand and other countries. The current
parameters are not based on sound science and therefore constitute a
non-tariff barrier that is inconsistent with the World Trade
Organization’s (WTO’s) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and
Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement).
strategy involves pressing the Thai government to action and developing
strategic alliances, both domestic and international.
Background: Development of the Quarantine Standard
The issue of Australian quarantine standards for chicken first
arose in 1990 when the Australian government began considering the
importation of chicken meat from Thailand, Denmark and the United
States. In 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.
In 1995, AQIS adopted the results of a 1988 study of IBDV conducted
at the United Kingdom’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.
To resolve the issue, AQIS commissioned the Central Veterinary
Laboratory to conduct a new test on the heat inactivation of IBDV.
The 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 1997, Australia
announced that it would permit imports of cooked chicken meat from Thailand,
Denmark and the United States 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.
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.
of the Quarantine Standard
quarantine policy regarding imports of cooked chicken meat is
inconsistent with Australia’s commitments under the WTO’s Agreement
on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS
The SPS Agreement requires that risk assessments be based on sound
science, however AQIS’s risk assessment was not. The arbitrarily use
of strain CS 88, a highly virulent strain of IBDV, in the test was not
justified by any objective evidence. To date, no research has been
conducted to identify the strains of IBDV that are endemic in Thailand.
The quarantine standards unjustifiably discriminate between
Australia’s own territory and that of other WTO members where
identical or similar conditions prevail. While the Australians have
argued that the country is free from IBDV, the Office International des
Epizooties (OIE) reported of an occurrence of IBDV in Australia in 1997.
AQIS’ risk assessment failed to assess the possible existence of
disease-free areas and areas of low-disease prevalence in Thailand. IBDV
may be limited only to one or more specific geographical areas in
Thailand. Therefore, chicken products coming from IBDV-free areas within
Thailand should be considered on the basis of their disease status, not
that of the rest of the country.
AQIS has not explored alternative, less trade-restrictive means of
safeguarding against IBDV outbreaks in Australia. According to Professor
Daral Jackwood, an Ohio State University expert on IBDV, the virus can
be controlled through an effective breeder vaccination program. This is
also confirmed by another study conducted by the University of
Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Science.
Australia’s quarantine measures are unjustifiably strict and
represent a continued non-tariff barrier to Thai exporters. This
standard should be re-evaluated based on sound science. It should not be
allowed to set a precedent that the Australian government could rely on
in setting equally stringent quarantine standards when, in the future,
it considers the importation of fresh frozen chicken. Excessively
stringent standards on both cooked and fresh frozen chicken would
effectively shut down the Australian chicken market to Thai chicken
To pressure the Australian government to lower the existing core
temperature/time parameters for the heat treatment of cooked chicken,
the Association should pursue a strategy to build support for its
position in Thailand, Australia and internationally.
National Strategy. The
goal of the strategy is to ensure that the Thai government understands
the importance of the issue and will give it a high priority. Proposed
building. Mobilize support of the Thai Chicken Growers Association and the
Thai Feed Mill Association. Members of both organizations will benefit
from the expansion of export markets for Thai chicken products.
strategy. Build awareness in Parliament of the importance of this issue to
the Thai chicken industry and the country’s economy as a whole, thus
pushing the government to work harder to resolve the issue.
the profile of the issue. The Association should ask the Board of Trade of Thailand to
help raise the issue before the Export Development Committee.
Australian Strategy. The
goal is to generate international pressure on the Australian government
to quickly resolve the issue. Proposed strategies include
building. The Association will
seek support from potential allies who may be interested in importing
relatively inexpensive Thai cooked chicken to satisfy their customers.
These include fast food chains such as McDonald’s and KFC and big
supermarket chains such as Coles, Woolworth, etc. Another potential ally
is the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce. If convinced of that the
issue could have a negative impact on Thai-Australian trade relations,
the Chamber may be willing to urge the Australian government to find a
swift solution to the problem.
The Association must reassure those who oppose imports as well as
the Australian general public that Thai chicken processing facilities
use effective risk management practices. To accomplish this, the
Association should seek to publish op-ed pieces in influential
newspapers in Australia.
strategy. The Association can
share its ideas with the Thai government on how to negotiate with
Australia. The options that Thailand may propose to solve the problem
• Invite Australia to send an
inspection team to visit Thailand’s export quality poultry farms.
During an inspection tour by the Australian delegation in Thailand in
1997, only processing plants were visited.
• Propose that each batch of source
birds be placed under quarantine for one week before being processed.
Normally chickens infected with IBDV die within 4-5 days after
• Seek Australia’s recognition of
IBDV-free areas in Thailand.
• Approach the Office International des Epizooties
to conduct a field study on the strains of IBDV which are endemic in
Thailand and Australia and, based on this study, develop international
standards for verifying the inactivation of IBDV in processed chicken
negotiations fail, the recommended BATNA (Best Alternative to a
Negotiated Agreement) is for Thailand to file a complaint with the WTO.
International Strategy. Again,
the goal is to generate international pressure on the Australian
government to quickly resolve the issue. The proposed strategy follows:
building. The Association should pursue an alliance with the USA Poultry and
Egg Export Council and the Danish Poultry Exporters Association. Members
of both associations are affected by Australia's stringent SPS measures.
They should be encouraged to urge their respective governments to work
with the Thai government in negotiations with Australia.