EU toughens rules on imports in response to PEDv

Brussels/Paris | Reuters — European Union officials on Tuesday agreed on new rules for the treatment of imported pigs’ blood for use in animal feed, but decided against changing the rules on importing live pigs even though a deadly virus has caused major losses to the U.S. pig industry.

In a statement, the European Commission said import rules on live animals were already very strict and the U.S. and Canadian authorities had told them no live pigs were scheduled to be sent to the EU.

But it said an expert committee had introduced a requirement that any blood products to be imported to the EU for use in pig feed must have been treated at 80 F, followed by storage for six weeks at room temperature, which the Commission said would ensure any coronavirus present was inactivated.

It also said the Commission would continue to review the situation and its expert committee would meet again early in June.

France had said it was considering a unilateral ban on imports of pigs and pig byproducts from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Japan. [Related story]

But it later said it would wait until after Tuesday’s meeting in Brussels to take a decision.

French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll welcomed the measures announced on Tuesday.

“Everything must be done to prevent the introduction into French and European farms of the coronavirus responsible for the epidemic,” the ministry said in a statement.

A spokeswoman confirmed France would not introduce a separate ban.

The porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) is estimated to have killed around seven million young pigs in the U.S. since being identified in that country almost a year ago.

Since then, U.S. officials have reported cases of PEDv on over 6,200 farms across 30 states. Canada has reported cases of PEDv on 61 farms, mostly in southwestern Ontario, since the virus was first confirmed in Ontario in January.

— Reporting for Reuters by Barbara Lewis and Sybille de la Hamaide.

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