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Pig Feet and Ears Included in Import Ban

by 5m Editor
14 January 2011, at 11:01am

CHINA - Pork bi-products from Germany are atop the Chinese government's list of newly banned imports, a senior German agricultural ministry official said yesterday.

A pork vendor at a traditional market in Huaibei City, Anhui Province organizes animal bi-products in her stall in this 2009 file photo. China banned the import of German pork products including pig feet and ears Tuesday. [Photo:CFP]

"Most of the pork imported into China was pork bi-products such as pig's ears and pig's feet," the spokesperson for Germany's Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection told the Global Times by phone on Thursday.

The Berlin-based official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said agricultural officials there had met with staff from several embassies in the German capital to detail precautionary measures taken to prevent more dioxin from entering the food chain.

The poisonous chemical entered the German food chain via contaminated fats that are a key ingredient in animal feeds fed to pigs and chickens.

China's food-quality regulators, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), announced a ban on pork and egg products from Germany Tuesday.

As of press time Thursday, AQSIQ declined to disclose further details about what products will be banned specifically or whether consumers should refrain from eating German products already in circulation.

AQSIQ's request for a faxed list of interview questions also went unanswered Thursday.

China's ban was sparked by a worldwide food scare starting last week that later spread to South Korea. Wednesday, officials in Hong Kong said all German pork products would be held for inspection and released to the market only after food safety officials were satisfied they were safe for consumption.

A German embassy official in Beijing told the Global Times Thursday that short-term exposure to trace amounts of the chemical in pork is not a health risk.

German exports of pork to Chinese mainland in 2009 stood at some 7,000 tons, valued at 5.9 million euros ($7.75 million), while global German pork exports were 2.2 million tons worth 4.4b euros ($5.78 billion), according to the German agricultural ministry.

An official at imported food retailer Jenny Lou's told the Global Times the Beijing-based chain sells products from Germany - including pork sausages - but was not aware of any plan to remove the items from store shelves.

Officials from grocers Walmart and Carrefour declined to confirm whether any products on their store shelves would be included in the ban.

Shenzhen-based Nogogo Trading Company, an importer in China of German sausages, said it was business as usual Thursday.

"I don't know anything about a ban on pork products," Ren Ya, a sales manager with Shenzhen Nogogo Trading Company, told the Global Times Thursday.