LAHORE - A large number of consignments of virus-infected Chinese chicken products are being imported from China to Pakistan for big fast food restaurants, despite the fact that Chinese Veterinary Authorities have endorsed presence of influenza virus A(H7N9) in their poultry.

Though the Ministry of Commerce, in its trade policy for 2012-15, has imposed ban on import of chicken products from those countries which are under virus attack, yet Customs department is violating the rules openly.

Due to presence of the new virus at least 180 cases have been reported in China while more than 24 people have died there just in one month, industry sources informed and added that fatal virus can easily be transmitted into human beings particularly in children and aged people.

Sources confirmed that around 4500kg to 2000kg of chicken products are being imported from China, putting at risk thousands of citizens’ lives who are unaware of the situation while Chicken products including crispy chicken patty, grilled chicken patty, chicken nuggets, value chicken and chicken meat in large consignments are arriving at Karachi port on regular basis and all consignments are cleared without any warning of health hazards.

Sources said that Customs authorities have endangered lives of Pakistani citizens by allowing unchecked import of Chinese chicken for large fast food restaurants in Pakistan.

Chinese authorities have killed 20,000 birds at a wholesale market in Shanghai with an advice to people to avoid live poultry while Hanoi chicken market has been shut down after isolating Avian Influenza virus H7 N9 from a pigeon.

Sources confirmed that consignment of crispy chicken patty from China (Xiadian Town) of 6804kg arrived on 06 March 2013. Similarly, consignment of grilled chicken patty of 950kg, consignment of chicken patty of 1768kg, consignment of chicken nugget of 4665.6kg, consignment of value chicken patty of 1152kg, consignment of chicken patty of 2652kg and consignment of value chicken patty of 2288kg arrived on March 06 2013.

Sources also revealed that different consignments of crispy chicken patty, grilled chicken patty, chicken nuggets, value chicken and chicken meat totaling 41931.44kg was imported from China on March 27, 2013.

According to FAO (Food & Agriculture Organization of UNO), it is revealed that a previously unknown Avian Influenza virus H5N1, which is not so lethal, has infected 7 persons in China with at least six deaths but the up to date reported cases have increased to 24. The World Health Organization has shown its concern as to how the said virus has infected humans.

Vietnam has already banned import of Chinese poultry due to the risk involved in importing Chinese chicken.

Market sources said that Malaysia has banned all imported chicken from China and is urging its own poultry farmers to beware of H7N9 bird flu after Taiwan reported a case of the deadly strain, the first outside mainland China.

Pakistan Poultry Association former chairman Abdul Basit criticized the govt carelessness in this regard, urging the authorities to issue another notification to ban the chicken products infected with new virus of H7N9, which is more fatal.

He said that Pakistani chicken products are still banned all over the world due to outbreak of bird flue long ago in the country. Though the OIE has cleared the Pakistani products from bird flu, yet export has not gained pace due inefficiency of our foreign ministry, he added.

Former PPA central chairman said that it is really tragic and a matter of concern to note that Pakistan has taken no notice of the situation.

He said that children and old age persons become easy victim of the virus while enjoying the contaminated chicken and it is ready to eat value added products which are widely available at these golden arch outlets.

The present situation demands that Pakistan Health authorities, the Ministry of National Food Security & Research should immediately take notice of the consequences and order an immediate ban on import of Chinese chicken meat and its products to protect public from the clutches of this deadly virus.