POSSIBLE CHINESE POULTRY IMPORTS CONCERN SPARKS
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Ron Sparks, commissioner of Alabama's Department of Agriculture & Industries, says the U.S. should remain vigilant should the USDA decide to accept poultry from China.
"We are very concerned in Alabama about the possibility of China sending poultry to the United States," said Sparks, noting that the Chinese have been apprehensive about importing beef from the U.S. because of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
"I am sure they can understand why we would hesitate to import even one piece of chicken from a country that has the H5N1 strain of avian influenza. The USDA must negotiate trade with other countries, but we don't need to make any mistakes when it comes to protecting human health."
The U.S. has not had any cases of the highly pathogenic avian influenza, a virus that is killed by properly cooking chicken. Alabama has dramatically increased surveillance in both backyard and commercial flocks over the last 20 years, according to a release from the Department of Agriculture & Industries which has developed a response plan for the poultry industry should there be a case of avian influenza.
"This is definitely on our radar because Alabama is a poultry state," Sparks added. "Alabama poultry growers can meet the demands of any market that opens up. I hope that if the USDA chooses to allow these imports from China that they will ensure that the Chinese product holds up to meet our safety and health standards here in the U.S."