September 21, 2007


Canada's pork group seeks to end China ban on Maple Leaf pork plant



Efforts are underway to reinstate Canada's pork product exports from the Maple Leaf Foods hog processing plant in Brandon, Manitoba to China, an official with the Canadian Pork Council said.


"It was certainly a surprise that pork from Maple Leaf was banned by China given that a number of countries which have been using the growth stimulant in question have been shipping pork products to China for a number of years without any problems," Martin Rice, executive director with the Canadian Pork Council said in a telephone interview from Beijing, where the council has been on a fact finding and educational trade mission.


However, he said China has stepped up its inspections of pork products recently and the stimulant found falls in the category of drugs the Chinese government has concerns with.


China banned the pork products after samples were found to contain the feed addictive, or growth hormone, ractopamine. Ractopamine is typically sold in North America under the brand Paylean. Paylean was approved for use in Canada in 2006 and roughly 20 other countries have approved its use, including the US The US approved it in 1999.


The drug has been banned in China since 2002.


"What has to happen is Canadian officials and other exporting countries need to meet with the appropriate Chinese government representatives and through science convince them that the stimulant is not harmful," Rice said.


This issue would be resolved through discussion, as making threats and demands wouldn't be the way to approach this delicate matter, he said.


"The pork products that were banned from Maple Leaf represent only a half percent of 1 percent of our pork sales to China," said Jeanette Jones, director of communications for Maple Leaf Foods.


She said the temporary ban only applies to pork products from the company's Brandon, Manitoba facility. Pork products were still being shipped to China from Maple Leaf's processing facilities in Alberta and Ontario.


As for efforts to remove the Chinese ban, Jones said the federal government was leading the response and was managing those discussions.


Paylean (ractpopamine hydrochloride) is a feed ingredient that increases the amount of quality meat in high-value cuts and improves production efficiency. Paylean directs nutrients away from fat deposition and toward lean deposition.


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