December 30, 2008
Mexico starting to lift ban on US meat plants
Mexico has taken steps to resume imports of US meat on Monday (Dec 29) for 21 of the 30 meat plants suspended for technical and sanitary issues.
Corrective action had been taken at 21 of the suspended facilities, said the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
An unnamed Mexican official said bans on meat imports from the plants will be removed.
The official said the Mexican government was still waiting word from the FSIS on what remedies were being made at the remaining nine plants.
US analysts speculated that the move is Mexico's retaliation to the US' country-of-origin labelling (COOL) law, which has hurt Mexico and Canada's livestock industry. However, both Mexico and the USDA denied the retaliation charge.
Mexico's agriculture ministry said the affected plants fell short on standards such as packaging, labelling and transport conditions.
Many of the banned plants are owned by the largest U.S. meat companies, including Cargill Inc, Tyson Foods Inc, JBS, Seaboard and Smithfield Foods.
Mexico is the largest destination by volume for US beef, veal and turkey, the second largest for pork and the third largest for chicken, according to US statistics.