China bans import of pigs from Mexico and U.S.

BEIJING Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:28am BST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China has banned imports of live pigs and pork products from Mexico and three U.S. states, the government said, after an outbreak of a deadly swine flu virus in those two countries.

Shipments starting from April 26 will be returned or destroyed from Mexico and Texas, California and Kansas, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in an announcement.

Shipments before April 26 are subject to virus checks before they enter China.

China, the world's largest pork consumer and producer, is largely self-sufficient in pork products, except last year when China bought over one million tonnes of pork and cooked meat products from the United States after an outbreak of blue ear disease caused supply shortfall.

Pork is the most popular animal protein in the Chinese diet, accounting for more than 60 percent of China's total meat consumption.

Swine flu has killed more than 100 people in Mexico, and infections have been reported in the United States and Canada, with possible cases in Europe, Israel and New Zealand. The World Health Organisation has declared the flu a "public health emergency of international concern" that could become a pandemic.

(Reporting by Chen Aizhu and Niu Shuping; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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