By Sally Schuff
April 28, 2009
The global outbreak of H1N1 influenza has Cabinet-level officials in the U.S. warning trading partners that they must base any trade actions taken to "protect their populations on scientific evidence and in accordance with their international obligations."
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in an April 28 statement, "Restrictions on U.S. pork or pork products or any meat products from the U.S. resulting from the recent outbreak do not appear to be based on scientific evidence and may result in serious trade disruptions without cause."
Addressing potential concerns about the safety of U.S. pork and pork products, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, "While there is no evidence at this time that swine have been infected with this virus, the science is clear that consuming or handling pork, consistent with safe handling practices, is of no risk to consumers."
The warning came after Russia banned pork imports from Mexico and several states in the U.S. that had confirmed cases of the flu strain in people. There have been no confirmed cases in swine in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has identified 40 cases of new H1N1 human influenza in the U.S., including seven in California, two in Kansas, 28 in New York, one in Ohio and two in Texas. All were mild cases with no deaths reported.