Turkeys From US May Not Be Allowed Across Border Due to Avian Flu, Say Canadian Officials

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The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is advising Canadians not to purchase poultry from certain U.S. regions this Thanksgiving due to avian influenza outbreaks.

According to the CFIA, live birds, bird products, and by-products are barred from being brought over the border if they come from certain states because of a “highly pathogenic” outbreak of bird flu, or H5N1.

Although the virus is lethal for birds and spreads quickly, it is rare for humans to contract the virus. Only one human infection has been detected in the U.S.

Twenty-one states have declared an outbreak, including all states bordering Canada other than New Hampshire, Vermont, and Alaska.

“Raw poultry will only be allowed entry into Canada with documentation, such as a receipt, stating it was purchased in a state not currently affected by HPAI [H5N1] outbreaks,” said CFIA in an Oc.t 7 statement, warning that without the proper documentation, cross-border travellers may have to return the poultry to the grocery store or have Canadian Border Services dispose of it.

Regardless of outbreak status, labelled, retail-packaged and fully cooked poultry products are allowed across the border. Game carcasses can still be brought over with a proper hunting permit, and live pet birds are allowed with official certification from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Any fresh, raw, or unprocessed poultry products or by-products” from outbreak states are not permitted, says CFIA, including any items that are not prepackaged, such as products from a roadside stand or small farm. Frozen turkeys purchased for a Thanksgiving feast, for example, could be turned down at the border.

“Poultry products that have not been treated by any means, other than by refrigeration, vacuum packaging or modified atmosphere packaging to ensure their preservation, may be called ‘fresh,’” CFIA noted.

Currently, B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec all have areas that are classified as a “primary control zone” due to concerns about H5N1. This means that a special permit is needed to move fresh poultry through the zone. In Canada, there are 2.9 million estimated infections. Alberta has the most with over 1.3 million.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Oct. 6, over 47 million poultry birds and over 2,700 wild birds have the infection.

According to Turkey Farmers of Canada, there are 513 turkey farms in the country. In 2021, there were around 22.3 million kilograms of Turkey exported and about 150 million kilograms produced, with Canadians consuming about 89 percent of it.

On Thanksgiving 2021, 2.7 million whole turkeys were purchased in Canada, which is 45 percent of the total turkey consumption for the year.

David Wagner


David Wagner is an Epoch Times reporter based in Winnipeg.

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