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Mexico Bans Chicken from 7 U.S. States

June 14, 2002|MELINDA FULMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mexico has quietly banned chicken and other poultry imports from seven U.S. states, including California, after meat was found to be contaminated with a type of avian influenza not found in Mexico, its poultry union said.

The move would not have a big effect on California producers, industry officials said, because they mainly sell fresh chickens and export less than 2% of their 250 million chickens.

Moreover, veterinarians said, because California's strain of the disease isn't very virulent, it poses little threat to the state's flocks or humans.

But industry officials fear that a prolonged ban could lead producers in other states to dump excess product in California, depressing prices paid to local producers.

"Hopefully, [the ban] won't last long," said Bill Mattos of the California Poultry Federation. "Mexico is a big market for the U.S."

Mexico banned chicken and poultry products from Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maine, Texas and California, beginning June 11, the poultry union said in a statement.

The union said that products from those states were found to contain "subtypes of avian influenza that do not exist in Mexico, which represent a very high risk to Mexican poultry."

Veterinary specialists in California said that since avian influenza is predominantly spread from live chicken to live chicken through feces, the chances of spreading infection were remote.

Excluded from the ban are poultry products that have received thermal treatments, such as chicken sausages.

Reuters was used in compiling this report.

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