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American Meat Institute Says China’s Actions to Suspend Plants from Shipping Pork and Poultry Not Based on Sound Science

Monday, July 16, 2007

The American Meat Institute (AMI) today said China’s suspension of seven U.S. plants from exporting safe and inspected U.S. pork and poultry products to China are not based upon sound science.

“Products produced by the plants suspended by China were inspected and passed as wholesome and safe by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors,” said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle. “U.S. food safety standards are among the most stringent in the world and our pork and poultry products are recognized for their safety. These products could be sold in the United States and consumed safely by American consumers, yet China has rejected them.”

According to AMI, like all raw agricultural products, raw poultry products can contain low levels of bacteria, including Salmonella. This is normal and is allowed under USDA rules because the products are intended to be cooked. Salmonella would not be permitted on a product that was considered already cooked and ready to eat like a cooked chicken breast.

Likewise, the United States has FDA approved tolerance levels for ractopamine which is a feed ingredient used by swine producers that results in carcasses with more lean pork and less fat. This safe and effective feed ingredient is used by the majority of U.S. producers and has helped achieve U.S. pork’s lean profile. However, China is enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy for miniscule residues in pork that have no food safety impact and that are allowed in the U.S. and many other nations.

“China’s policies and actions to suspend these plants are inconsistent with the best available science,” Boyle said. “The pork and poultry products that have been rejected are safe, wholesome and eligible to be sold in the U.S. – and many other nations throughout the world. We urge China to reconsider its actions.”

Exports of pork to China are up 51.3 percent for the January-May 2007 time period from the previous January –May 2006 time period. Exports of poultry to Hong Kong/China for the January-May 2007 time period are down 7.4 percent from the previous January –May 2006 time period. According to USDA, the U.S. exported 640 million pounds of poultry to Mainland China and Hong Kong in 2006. Likewise, the U.S. exported 113.5 million pounds of pork to Mainland China in 2006.

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