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Published May 04, 2009, 12:13 PM

Canada trade minister calls Chinese ban on Alberta

Canada’s minister of international trade says a Chinese ban on Alberta pork over fears of swine flu is “disappointing and unwarranted.” Stockwell Day says federal government officials in Beijing are attempting to “clarify” the situation.

By: Canadian Press,

EDMONTON — Canada’s minister of international trade says a Chinese ban on Alberta pork over fears of swine flu is “disappointing and unwarranted.”

Stockwell Day says federal government officials in Beijing are attempting to “clarify” the situation.

The flu was discovered in a herd of pigs on a central Alberta farm where it apparently was passed onto the animals by a worker who had recently travelled to Mexico.

“All scientific evidence indicates the H1N1 flu virus is not passed by eating pork,” Day said in an email sent by his spokeswoman as he was boarding a plane for Latvia today.

“There is no food safety concern related to the discovery of H1N1 Influenza in the herd in Alberta.”

Day also pointed to a joint statement by the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health in which it is stressed there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted in food.

“Therefore (there is) no justification for the imposition of trade measures on the importation of pigs or their products,” Day said.

Eight other countries have put some restrictions on pork imports and live hogs since the H1N1 influenza A virus started making international headlines.

Day said officials are talking to any countries that have placed or are considering a ban on Canadian pork to make sure they have the scientific information to make an informed decision.

The minister said he is pleased by a statement from American Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that says the United States is not changing its trade policies regarding Canadian pork.

In 2008, total Canadian pork exports were valued at $2.7 billion, including nearly $527 million worth of Canadian live swine exports.

Jurgen Preugschas, an Alberta hog farmer and president of the Canadian Pork Council, characterized the Chinese ban as a “knee-jerk reaction.”

“It’s easier to close the border and then talk about it and think about it and get all the details,” he said Sunday.

“I believe ultimately this will hopefully blow over and not have as serious effect as it might have.”

Canadian officials say most of the pigs at the Alberta farm in question have recovered, but the herd has been quarantined as a precaution.

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