TOKYO: Japan has banned imports of French foie gras due to a bird flu outbreak, an agriculture ministry official said Friday. The ban, which became effective November 26, will be lifted 90 days after all affected French poultry farms finish culling their birds and conclude necessary sanitary procedures, the official told AFP. Japan took action to stop imports of French poultry and live birds after the European Commission confirmed birds at a French chicken farm were infected with the H5N1 strain.

However, French poultry products made before October 23 can be imported, the official said, citing a three-week incubation period for the virus. “Products that were made after that date are banned to prevent the virus from entering into Japan,” he said. “We are relying on the French authorities to give us information. “We would lift the import ban 90 days after the affected farms finish culling their birds and go through full disinfection,” he said.

For the first eight months of this year Japan was the top global importer of foie gras, according to a French industry group. France produces 75 percent of global foie gras and the country exported 4,934 tonnes of it in 2014. Algeria, China, Egypt, Japan, Morocco, South Korea, Thailand and Tunisia have banned French poultry imports following the outbreak last month in the southwestern area of Dordogne, said Loic Evain, deputy head of the French agriculture ministry’s food division. “The list is not exhaustive,” Evain said Thursday, but does not include France’s 27 European Union partners, who have accepted containment measures proposed by Paris under World Health Organization guidelines. “Unfortunately some countries’ first reaction is to close their borders and only then to discuss” strategy, Evain said. —AFP