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Infected mink and import from Denmark

On 4 November 2020, the Danish government announced that all remaining Danish mink will be culled, due to the finding of new unique mutations. Find questions and answers about the handling of the mink during this operation.

 

​What is the situation in Denmark?

As of governmental decision 1 October 2020 minks on SARS-CoV-2 positive farms are culled along with all minks on non-infected farms within a perimeter of 7.8 km from the infected farm.

Farms suspected of being infected either due to positive samples seen in the surveillance program or due to possible transmission from other infected farms/humans, that are situated both within and outside the perimeter are sampled for clarification to determine if they are infected or not – their status will define if a new perimeter is needed.

On 4 November 2020, the Danish government announced that all remaining Danish mink will be culled. This operation will be implemented due to the finding of new unique mutations.


Click the questions to see the answer


Is it safe to import food from Denmark,
in light of the current situation regarding COVID-19 in mink?

Yes, imported food from Denmark is still safe. The risk that food is a transmission route for coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 is very low. The virus does not multiply in food or feed, as it needs living cells to reproduce. This is confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

WHO states, "It is highly unlikely that people can contract COVID-19 from food or food packaging. There is no evidence to date of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses being transmitted via food or food packaging. Coronaviruses cannot multiply in food; they need an animal or human host to multiply" and EFSA confirms, "There is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus"

Even though a new mink-strain of COVID-19 virus is discovered, the transmission route is not changed. November 7, 2020 WHO reports following: "Available evidence has so far not indicated any changes in the virus affecting virus transmissibility, or disease severity associated with this new variant strain".

 

Is it safe to import feed from Denmark,
in light of the current situation regarding COVID-19 in mink?

Yes, imported feed from Denmark is still safe. The risk that feed is a transmission route for coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 is very low. The virus does not multiply in food or feed as it needs living cells to reproduce.

EFSA refers to BfR, Germany's risk assessment body for more answers about food and feed.

BfR says, "The BfR is not yet aware of any information from China or other countries affected by SARS-CoV-2 that indicate a particular role for feed for pets and livestock. So far, there is no evidence that animal feed is a vehicle for coronaviruses"

This applies both to the feeding of livestock and to the feeding of pets. For feeding livestock, roughage and compound feed is used. For feeding of pets, ready-made feed is mostly used. This is understood as dry food (e.g. pellets, biscuits), wet or moist food, frozen food, grain food or even snacks (e.g. dog biscuits, dog cookies, chews).

 

Is it safe to import live animals and animal by-products from Denmark,
in light of the current situation regarding COVID-19 in mink?

Yes, it is safe to import live animals and animal by-products from Denmark. The culled mink are disposed separately and are not in contact with other live animals and animal by-products. SARS-CoV-2 in animals is notifiable in Denmark. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration can ensure that live animals and animal by-products will meet all the import conditions required by the country of destination.


When must the operation be completed?

The culling of all Danish mink is expected to be completed by 19 November 2020.

8 November 2020 

What happens after the completion of the operation?

A general ban will not be imposed on future mink farming in Denmark, but no minks will be allowed in cages in 2021.

8 November 2020 

What happens to the culled mink from SARS-CoV-2 positive farms and farms within the 7.8 km perimeters zone?

The mink must not be skinned and the intact body is disposed of.

In all SARS-CoV-2 positive farms and farms within the 7.8 km perimeters, the culled mink including skin are disposed of by rendering in specialized rendering plants in Denmark.

Due to current overload of capacity at the rendering plants, some of the culled mink will be incinerated in waste incineration plants in Denmark, and some will be buried, drenched and encapsulated with lime e.g. on designated military territories.

8 November 2020 

What happens to manure from SARS-CoV-2 positive farms?

Manure from SARS-CoV-2 positive farms are treated with lime to raise the pH value to above 12. Alternatively, the manure can be used in biogas plants where it must be treated by hygienisation at 70 degrees Celsius for 60 minutes. After the manure has been treated as described above, the manure can be spread on land.

8 November 2020 

What happens to manure from non-infected farms?

Manure from non-infected farms are not subject to any restrictions and can be used in biogas plants or spread on land.

8 November 2020 

What happens to the healthy culled mink from non-infected farms outside of the 7.8 km perimeter zone?

The healthy mink are allowed to be skinned.

The bodies are disposed of by rendering in specialized rendering plants in Denmark.

Due to current overload of capacity at the rendering plants, some of the culled mink bodies will be incinerated in waste incineration plants in Denmark, and some will be buried, drenched and encapsulated with lime e.g. on designated military territories. 

8 November 2020 

Cleaning and disinfection?

All SARS-CoV-2 positive farms are cleaned and disinfected according to government guidelines.

All other farms are cleaned according to their normal cleaning procedure used after skinning of the minks.

8 November 2020 

What method is used to cull minks in farms in Denmark?

The method used for culling is gassing with carbon monozide.


Why is this method chosen over others?

It was found to be the most appropriate method, both in terms of animal welfare and workflow.

This method is also used when the farmer normally cull mink in relation to skinning. So almost all farmers already have the equipment on the farm.

Also, in cases of disease outbreaks, such as COVID-19, using gas is considered one of the safest options, because the skin of the animals remains unbroken, avoiding the release of contaminated bodily fluids into the environment.


11 November 2020

Are the farmers compensated?

All farmers are compensated.  

8 November 2020 

Are skins and furs already imported from Denmark safe?

Yes. Skins and furs currently in transport or already imported stem from healthy animals. 

8 November 2020 

Can fur and skin still be pelted and exported?

Skins and furs from healthy animals in non-infected farms outside of the 7.8 km perimeter can be pelted in the current pelting season and sold on commercial basis, including for export purposes.  


8 November 2020


Which countries have imposed a ban on imports of live mink from Denmark?
  • Poland has decided to impose a ban on import of live mink from Denmark to Poland.
  • Latvia has decided to impose a temporary ban on import of live mink and unprocessed mink skins until 6 December 2020 from all countries, including Denmark.
  • Lithuania has decided to impose a temporary ban on import of live mink from a number of countries, including Denmark.

20 november 2020

Last Modified 20. November 2020