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Ebola: European food safety experts to assess risk of bushmeat to EU countries

European food safety experts have been asked to assess the risk ofEbola being spread in EU member states through eating contaminated bushmeat.

The assessment is expected by the end of the month. In April, scientists said the risks were very low but also admitted high uncertainty about their estimate.

There is extremely little data about just how much bushmeat, often from primates but also other wildlife hunted in Africa, is illegally imported into the EU or how it is treated, handled and cooked.

UK Border Force figures show low amounts are seized entering the UK – about 450kg estimated in 2013-14, and 300kg the year before. In 2006-7, nearly 3,400kg was seized.

There have been persistent claims, however, that some bushmeat evades controls while researchers sugested in 2010 that 270 tonnes of illegal bushmeat reached Paris Charles de Gaulle airport each year.

The European commission first asked for an opinion in April when the crisis had not spread beyond western Africa but now wants an update amid mounting international concern about the spread of the virus.

In an email to the Guardian on Friday, the commission’s directorate reponsible for health said it had asked the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) for assistance in providing an update on the risk of transmission of Ebola via the food chain.

Efsa later said: “Ebola is thought to circulate in wild animals in sub-Saharan Africa. It has been found in fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas and duikers [a type of antelope]. Import into the EU of any fresh meat from western African countries is not authorised. Efsa’s scientists are working to complete their assessment by the end of the month.”

See more:

The Guardian

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