By News Desk in Putrajaya
Malaysia's livestock industry players have joined calls to the government to stop an incoming batch of chicken consignments from China.
Leong Hup Holdings Bhd executive director Tan Sri Francis Lau urged local authorities to impose a ban on poultry imports from China to prevent a pandemic of the H7N9 virus here.
As at May 1, 26 deaths due to the virus have been reported in China while confirmed cases of infection have risen to 127 since the outbreak of the disease.
"When I was in Shanghai two weeks ago, the Chinese restaurants there had removed chicken and duck from their menu.
"I hope our authorities will not wait until someone dies of the disease in Malaysia before they take action to prevent the virus from spreading here," Lau told The Star yesterday.
Federation of Livestock Farmers Association secretary-general Jeffrey Ng, however, said the body would not go so far as to call for a blanket ban on Chinese poultry imports, but stressed that the authority should prioritise public health.
"As an association, (calling for a ban) is a very sensitive issue and we do not wish to comment on that.
"All we can say is that we are producing 120 per cent of the poultry market demand locally and we support calls to prioritise consumer health."
Ng was referring to the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia's appeal to the government to stop an incoming batch of 98 containers containing frozen, deboned chicken from China.
Its secretary-general Dr Ma'amor Osman had said that the shipment, which had not been scanned for the H7N9 virus, should not be allowed into the country.
An earlier statement by Veterinary Services Department director-general Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin had said each shipment would be tested for the virus first.