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China bans Alberta pork after virus infects pig herd: media report

China is halting imports of Alberta pork because of the presence of swine flu in a herd of pigs, according to the official Chinese news agency.

China is halting imports of Alberta pork because of the presence of swine flu in a herd of pigs, according to the official Chinese news agency.

The Xinhua news agency attributed the information to China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and the Ministry of Agriculture.

Xinhua said the restriction is a response to news that the flu strain that has infected people in at least 19 countries was detected in a herd of Alberta pigs.

Canadian officials said Saturday that most of the pigs at the central Alberta farm in question have recovered, but the herd was quarantined as a precaution.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, or CFIA, has also stressed that eating pork does not pose a flu threat.

A spokesperson for Alberta's Agriculture Ministry was aware of reports of the ban but was unable to confirm whether they were true.

Industry group calls move 'knee-jerk reaction'

Jurgen Preugschas, an Alberta hog farmer and chair of industry group the Canadian Pork Council, said he received word Sunday from contacts in China confirming the ban.

While the pork council is "disappointed" by the decision, Preugschas said, he believes China was simply making a "very quick decision."

"Quite often countries have knee-jerk reactions to news out of another country," he said from his home in Mayerthorpe, Alta.

"It's easier to close the border and then talk about it and think about it and get all the details."

CFIA and Foreign Affairs could not be reached for comment.

Gerald Hauer, chief provincial veterinarian for Alberta Agriculture, said if the rumours he's heard about the border closing are true, "we would hope the science wins out over the emotion and the borders re-open soon."

"We've heard over and over again that pork products are safe to eat.... Eating pork products is not a risk factor for swine influenza. Properly prepared pork is perfectly safe to eat."

He also said some other countries have put restrictions in place on live swine and pork product imports, but noted "some of those countries are not significant to the pork industry."

He did not know how much trade was done between Alberta and China in terms of pork products and live swine.

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