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April 29, 2009 (4:00 p.m. EDT)
No. 115

Statement by Ministers Day and Ritz on Human Swine Influenza

The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, today issued the following statement on human swine influenza and the measures being taken by Canada to safeguard the health of Canadians and the Canadian pork industry:

“Canadians are concerned about recent cases of the human swine influenza (H1N1) and the related public health concerns. All levels of government are working together to protect the health of families in Canada and around the world.

“The Government of Canada is confident that Canadian pork is safe. We want to reassure Canadians that human swine influenza cannot be contracted through eating pork or pork products. Health authorities, including the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, are unanimous on this point.

“At the same time, the Government of Canada always ensures the safety of Canada’s food supply and the health of its animals. Federal, provincial and private sector veterinarians are working closely with producers to protect the health of our pork industry.

“Surveillance for swine influenza in pigs in Canada occurs on an ongoing basis across the country. As an added precaution, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the provincial and territorial authorities are working with producers and veterinarians to ensure the highest levels of biosecurity and to enhance monitoring activities. Consumers and trading partners can rest assured that the Canadian animal health and food safety systems remain among the best in the world.

“We know this is a difficult situation for Canadian pork producers, but they can be confident that the government will stand with them and give them the support they need.

“Some countries have imposed a ban on North American pork and swine (live hog) products, without scientifically justifiable evidence to support their actions. We urge these countries to base their decisions on sound science. Now is the time to work together as nations to control this outbreak. This should be our priority.

“In the meantime, Canada’s missions abroad are providing information to trade partners and importers highlighting the safety of Canadian pork and swine products. In countries where an import ban is being considered or has been imposed, we are talking to the key agencies and officials to help them make an informed decision and recognize that Canadian pork is safe.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with all our partners to ensure the safety of Canadians and Canadian exports.”

In 2008, total Canadian pork exports were valued at $2.7 billion, including nearly $527 million worth of Canadian live swine exports.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Mélisa Leclerc
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Meagan Murdoch
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz