April 29, 2015 / 8:29 PM / 3 years ago

Saudi Arabia bans poultry meat from Canadian province Ontario

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia, the world’s second-largest importer of chicken broiler meat, has banned imports of poultry meat and egg products from the Canadian province of Ontario due to the presence of avian influenza on three Ontario farms.

The market was worth about C$825,000 ($990,000) in 2014, representing 0.4 percent of Ontario’s poultry exports, said Patrick Girard, spokesman for Canada’s agriculture and agri-food department, on Wednesday.

The virus, known as bird flu, is the highly pathogenic H5N2 strain. In addition to Ontario, it was discovered last December in the western Canadian province of British Columbia.

This strain has also been reported this year in the United States in Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin.

Another strain, H5N8, has been identified in California and also in Idaho, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Earlier this month, Mexico, the biggest buyer of U.S. chicken, halted imports of live birds and eggs from Iowa.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency previously said that Hong Kong, Uruguay, Japan and Taiwan had restricted imports over the outbreak.

Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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