Canada is cont inuing efforts to end bans on Canadian hogs and pork in the face of the global pandemic declaration by the World Health Organization, say Trade Minister Stockwell Day and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.
Twelve countries, including China and the Philippines, still ban pork from Alberta or Canada following the discovery of the H1N1 virus on an Alberta farm in May. That herd has been liquidated, but the bans remain. El Salvador, Malaysia and Nicaragua have lifted all their restrictions and Russia has removed its prohibition on Alberta and British Columbia pork, but doesn’t accept any from Ontario and Quebec.
“While the situation is serious, the WHO has recommended that international borders remain open and that trade and commerce continue to move freely,” the ministers said. “Unfortunately, some trade partners are still maintaining restrictions on Canadian imports, without any scientifically justifiable evidence to support their actions. We will continue to work with these countries to help them make an informed decision and reinstate all trade in pork and live hogs.
“It is important for consumers to remember the international scientific community agrees that H1N1 cannot be transmitted by properly cooked meat. It is also important to refer to this flu virus by its proper name, H1N1, to make sure there is no confusion about the safety and quality of Canadian pork.”
The H1N1 pandemic was declared by the WHO because the virus has become established in Australia as well as North America. More than 3,500 cases have been reported in Canada, with two-thirds of them in Ontario and Quebec. Four people have died.
Canada works hard to ensure the safety of its exports, they said. “Canada’s missions abroad have been extremely active in communicating with our trade partners and highlighting the safety of Canadian products.”
In 2008, total Canadian pork exports were valued at $2.7 billion, including nearly $527 million worth of Canadian live swine exports.
Me’shel Gulliver Belanger, a trade department spokesman, said Canada thinks the pork bans are without scientifically justifiable evidence. “In countries where an import ban is being considered or has been imposed, we are talking to the key agencies and officials to help them make an informed decision and recognize that Canadian pork is safe.”