August 13, 2009

South Korea lifts restrictions on US pork and live hogs

South Korea has lifted the trade restrictions it placed on US pork and live hogs earlier this year in response to concerns over human infections with AH1N1 in the US, according to a statement released Wednesday (August 12) by the US-based National Pork Producers Council.


South Korea had traditionally only inspected a sample of US pork exports, but decided to test every shipment after the swine flu outbreak, the US group said. Furthermore, South Korea banned the importation of live US hogs sold for breeding purposes.


"South Korea's decision is good news for US pork producers," NPPC President Don Butler. "Korea is a top market for US pork exports and an important destination for swine breeding stock."


Total US pork sales to the South Korea for January through May this year was 55,136 tonnes worth US$116.8 million, according to data compiled by the US Department of Agriculture. The volume was down 10 percent and value off 7 percent from a year ago.


South Korea was the "top destination for US live hogs in 2008 with exports of US$1.1 million," according to the NPPC statement released Wednesday.


Various types of AH1N1 swine flu have plagued the hog industry for years, but a new version of the virus that can infect humans was discovered earlier this year in Mexico. The virus has spread around the world, mostly in people, but has infected swine - though not in the US.


USDA officials have said that even if swine were to contract this new swine flu in the US, pork from those animals would be safe to eat because the virus is relegated to the animals' lungs and does not contaminate the meat produced.

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