May 12, 2009
Several countries, including top five importers Russia and China, have banned U.S. pork in light of the outbreak of North American Influenza. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says such bans are not necessary, that there is no evidence U.S. swine have been infected and even then flu viruses are not spread by food.
"The discovery of this virus in humans is not a basis for any of our trading partners to restrict imports of commercially produced U.S. pork and pork products," Vilsack said. "Any trade restrictions would be inconsistent with World Organization for Animal Health guidelines."
The American Meat Institute is urging U.S. officials to work aggressively with the handful of nations that have ceased imports of U.S. pork. According to AMI President J. Patrick Boyle, the challenge is to convey the science to secure a full restoration of trade. He says these trade suspension actions are based on unfounded fear, not on scientific facts.
Boyle encourages consumers to continue to use normal safe handling practices when preparing fresh pork, like cooking thoroughly, keeping raw foods separate from cooked foods and washing hands, cutting boards and other surfaces and utensils that contact raw pork with hot soapy water.
"Now, more than ever, it is important that consumers take care of their health," Boyle said. "An essential part of staying healthy is eating a balanced diet that includes vitamin and mineral-rich foods like pork."
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