November 7, 2006
US hopes to avert pork import ban in Canada
US officials are hoping to avert a Canadian ban on US pork next year over concerns of animals treated with the antibiotic carbadox.
Canada last year imported 130,581 tonnes of US pork valued at US$395.6 million. It is the third largest market for US pork products, behind Mexico and Japan.
Currently, the European Union, Japan and Canada prohibit the use of carbadox due to the drug's possible link to cancer in humans.
Problems with carbadox have also surfaced as residues were found when it is fed to animals in the late stages of the animal's life, according to swine veterinary experts.
Carbadox is used on younger pigs in the US to promote growth and prevent infections with use of the drug in animals over 75 pounds limited.
Nick Giordano, international trade counsel for the National Pork Producers Council in Washington, said Health Canada may conclude that US usage of carbadox do not pose a threat to Canadian consumers after the numerous meetings they have had.
The crucial factor, achieved after much negotiation, is that US pork product is safe and there are no carbadox residues, said Giordano.
Canada's food agency would work with its foreign counterparts to develop a testing and monitoring programme to ensure no carbadox gets into the Canadian food system.
Health Canada spokesman Paul Duchesne said any proposed amendments may be reconsidered if a testing and monitoring programme would be established that would allay Canada's concerns.
Health Canada has entrusted CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) and the USDA to develop a monitoring plan that would satisfy Canadian health authorities that measures and safeguards would be in place to prevent carbodox from entering the human food chain.
Martin Rice, executive director for the Canadian Pork Council, is "hopeful" CFIA and USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service will work together to devise a mutually acceptable testing policy by March.
Some US pork industry sources are not so optimistic however. They suspect the final draft of the proposal could be published sometime this winter and it may recommend a ban by early 2007.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Pork Council is working with other meat organizations to forestall any potential fallouts if the US is to react to the ban by banning Canadian pork exports.
Canadian pork imports made up 82 percent of the total pork brought into the US in 2005.
Year-to date, the total number of hogs and pigs sent from Canada to the US has increased nearly 8 percent to 6.93 million heads, compared with the same period a year ago.