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Russia halts import of Bulgarian meat products

Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (FSVPS) has halted the import of meat products from Bulgaria. The decision was taken due to concerns about the recent discovery of the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus in Bulgarian pigs. The restrictions also apply to live pigs, pig embryos and boar sperm, as well as sheep and goat products.

However, the restrictions will not apply to products processed using technology that ensures the elimination of the ASF virus, such as ready-made pork products and raw material to be used for the production of fodder for animals, whose meat will used, for example, for the production of fur.

According to the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency, measures are being taken to eliminate the outbreak and prevent the spread of the disease. In August, Bulgaria began to build a 130-kilometer wire fence along the border with Romania, in order to prevent the free movement of wild boars. Despite these efforts, the ASF virus has been detected in the country and across other parts of emerging Europe, in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic and countries on the EU’s border – Ukraine and Moldova. The virus was also previously detected in Armenia and Georgia in 2007. Romania is currently the hardest hit: the country has reported hundreds of outbreaks of the disease among pigs kept in backyards and smallholdings as well as several large private farms located especially in the south of the country. About 100,000 pigs have been culled so far, and more than 150,000 more are scheduled to be culled.

According to Russia’s FSVPS, the first case of ASF in Bulgaria was detected on August 31 in the village of Tutrakantsi in the province of Varna in the northeast, close to the border with Romania. In an interview with Bulgarian National Television in mid-July, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety and Lithuania’s former Minister of Health, Vytenis Andriukaitis, stated that Bulgaria’s Food Safety Agency is taking the only possible action in order to control the virus – euthanising infected animals. This has led to mass protests by Bulgarian farmers, who rely on the sale of meat and dairy products. The EU is to cover three quarters of the cost of compensating the owners of euthanised animals. The commissioner denied that the outbreak of goat and sheep plague was a result of bioterrorism.

African swine fever affects pigs and wild boar, but does not affect humans.