February 25, 2004



Mexico Bans US Poultry Imports On Bird Flu


Mexico's Agriculture Ministry said Tuesday that it has banned imports of live birds and some poultry products from the U.S. following the detection of an avian flu in Texas.


In a press release, the ministry said that it will admit products like eggs and meat that have been heat-treated for at least 10 minutes at 60 degrees Celsius.


Previously, the poultry ban only covered 10 U.S. states.


Mexico imported about 160,000 tons of U.S. chicken worth nearly $100 million in 2003, making it the second-biggest international market for the meat.


Mexico itself is the world's fourth-largest chicken producer, having produced 2.1 million tons of chicken meat in 2003. Mexico produces most of its own eggs.


Mexico joins the E.U., South Korea and the Philippines in banning U.S. poultry products. The bird flu outbreak near San Antonio, in south-central Texas, was caused by a different strain of virus than the one that has killed 22 people in Asia.


The poultry decision comes on top of Mexico's December ban on U.S. beef following a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, in the state of Washington. Prior to the ban, Mexico was the second-biggest importer of U.S. beef.