Stricter rules on bird's nest in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA - Some 60,000 swiftlet ranchers are expected to be affected by the stricter safety regulations imposed by Malaysia's Veterinary Services Department on the export of raw, unclean edible bird's nest.

Coalition of Swiftlet Birdnest Ranches Malaysia chairman Allan Ho said the local Code of Veterinary Practice was looking to adopt different microbiological and chemical parameters as part of the standards for clean and raw unclean bird's nest.

"Chinese authorities pointed out that both clean and raw unclean edible bird's nests are lumped under one single specification although these are distinctively different.

"This means that raw unclean bird's nest comprising 95 per cent of the country's production to China will see little likelihood of export in the near future," he said in a statement here yesterday.

The strict regulations, said Ho, would further burden the ranchers who had patiently waited for over three years to get clearance from China.

China had banned the imports following the discovery of high levels of nitrite in clean Malaysian bird's nest in July 2011.

The ban had hit the country's swiftlet industry hard as China was reported to be the biggest importer of bird's nest products with an annual trading value of about RM1bil.

However, it was reported that China had since lifted its freeze, with approval granted to nine Malaysian companies.

Agriculture and Agro-based Indus-try Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had said that the General Administration of Quality Supervis­ion, Inspection and Quarantine of the People's Republic of China (Aqsiq) deemed the nine companies to have earned a "conditional pass" on the quality of their products.

Ho said since the incident of "fake" bird's nest erupted in China in 2009, ranchers had been subjected to a seemingly endless wait on the green light to export.

"Any unnecessary further delay on the export of raw unclean edible bird's nest will seriously aggravate the financial position of ranchers in the country," he said.

The final draft of the safety code for raw unclean bird's nest, said Ho, had been completed and was currently being displayed for public review for the second time until Oct 19.

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