The opportunities for compartmentalisation in managing global supply

Posted in Management;

by John Vincent, QA Director, Cobb Europe. www.cobb-vantress.com

Disease outbreaks that affect international trade are a fact of life. All businesses that generate revenue from export must develop strategies to manage the issues that follow notifiable disease outbreaks. Only two major diseases are of specific relevance to global poultry trade. These are Newcastle disease and avian influenza. The latter is by far the most critical and there are rarely months when a new outbreak is not declared by OIE. It is no longer a question of ‘if’ there is going to be another break, but ‘when’.

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Disease outbreaks that affect international trade are a fact of life. All businesses that generate revenue from export must develop strategies to manage the issues that follow notifiable disease outbreaks. Only two major diseases are of specific relevance to global poultry trade. These are Newcastle disease and avian influenza. The latter is by far the most critical and there are rarely months when a new outbreak is not declared by OIE. It is no longer a question of ‘if’ there is going to be another break, but ‘when’. to minimise risk by demanding an appropriate period of freedom from avian contact prior to visiting the company. This could easily vary depending on previous contact and whether there is an ongoing avian influenza issue in their country of origin. Visitors will require prior approval from the company to visit and must complete a visitor record in a facility log book to state contact details and to list previous avian contact within a prescribed time. Facility managers must be trained to deny visitors access if there is any concern about their biosecurity status.

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Vehicles that need to enter a facility must be disinfected at point of entry and the driver must complete a record with full details of previous facilities visited including dates. Facilities must be completely and securely fenced to prevent casual entry and where risks are identified, the fencing should be enhanced to help deter wild bird ingress. All entry points should be locked at all times and signage should be visible to indicate that entry is strictly controlled.


Bird and rodent pests must be deterred and risks managed through comprehensive programmes administered by trained and accredited personnel. Staff training must be an integral part of the management of the compartment. Knowledge and ‘buy in’ of facility staff members is essential to the function of the biosecurity of the compartment.

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Auditing scheduled by both internal and external accredited people is required to maintain all aspects of the compartment at a satisfactory level. Standard operating procedures will be altered from time to time, but only with approval of appropriate qualified people who must critically assess the proposed amendments to ensure compartment integrity is not compromised before they are permitted. If the concept of compartments is embraced by third country (importing) authorities, it will be a huge positive step in helping supplying companies maintain trade routes.


Under these circumstances, the supplying company is in control of its own status and ability to export. As long as the business is a certified compartment (in the eyes of the competent authority in that country), it should be able to guarantee freedom from specific notifiable disease. However, all compartments are not created equal. In different countries, the various competent authorities (usually the government department responsible for agriculture) can set their own standards and term them ‘compartment requirements’. There are already several different compartment protocols already extant, each with their own specific requirements to satisfy. GB (GB enhanced), EU (EU 616), Brazil and OIE all have compartment protocols published.


Third countries can accept the standards set under one compartment scheme but potentially reject others. This could lead to reciprocal arrangements not being accepted and trade disrupted. For compartments to be accepted globally, it is absolutely essential that the standards set are very high. If one compartment fails to address issues and an approved premises breaks for a notifiable disease, the whole concept of compartments will be called into question.

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