The South Africa Poultry Association Egg Organisation welcomes the announcement of minister Thoko Didiza on allowing importation of fertile eggs for hatcheries including products such as powder and liquid eggs, writes Dr Abongile Balarane: from South African Poultry Association (SAPA)
These are good steps to assist the industry during this crisis. Under normal circumstances, the South African Egg Industry has about 27 million hens that provide us with eggs daily. Unfortunately about 6 million of those layer hens have been culled with another 3 million suspected to be affected. As an industry, we have fully agreed to import a bulk of powder and liquid eggs which are mainly used for industrial purposes, and then channel all the available fresh table eggs to the consumers. This will assist us while we are rebuilding the flock size and waiting for vaccines to be allowed in South Africa.
We also believe that most of the SADC countries like Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola, and Malawi which are free from Avian Influenza can assist the industry to fill in some of the needed supplies. Unfortunately in 2017 during the previous Avian Influenza, we had poor, rotten eggs dumped into South Africa from South America. This unfortunately cost our industry reputation with consumers not happy with that product. This then led to the revision of the current regulation R.345. This regulation sets out clear rules for anyone wishing to import shell eggs and products into South Africa. The 40 days from the day of lay is to protect the consumer from poor quality eggs in the market which are refrigerated as low as +1 to +4 degrees celsius from exporting countries by sea to South Africa, then to immediately expose the eggs to ambient South African temperatures increases the decline in quality. South African eggs may not be sold after 40 days from the date of lay, the rule applies to ALL unpasteurised table eggs sold in South Africa.
The call from Hume International for immediate legislative intervention by uplifting the 40-day rule under regulation R.345 and assurance for importers is strongly not supported by the industry. Everyone must abide by the laws of the country. We call on DALRRD for immediate assistance to fast-track our discussions to open SADC countries that do not have Avian Influenza at the moment.