Malaysia freezes all imports of chicken products from China on bird flu fears

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysia has imposed a temporary freeze on all imports of chicken products from China following the outbreak of a new strain of avian flu there that has killed 22.

The Department of Vetrinary Services director-general, Abd Aziz Jamaluddin, said the freeze took effect on April 22 after one case of the new avian flu was detected in Shandong from where all the imports of chicken are from.

"There are also 98 containers (of frozen deboned chicken) which were already on their way here before the freeze. We have ordered that each shipment be held and tested for the virus before we let them in," he said at a press conference on Friday.

Malaysia imports between 20,000 to 22,000 metric tonnes of frozen deboned chicken annually from two major plants based in Shandong, China.

This accounts for 65 per cent of the country's annual imports, with the rest coming from Thailand and the European Union.

For this year, Malaysia had imported nearly 5,000 metric tonnes of chicken from Shandong as at March.

The World Health Organisation has described the virus as "one of the most lethal".