WA industry sheltered from swine flu fallout

29 Apr, 2009 10:00 PM
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WA pork exports could increase following the discovery of swine flu in Mexico over the weekend.

Craig Mostyn Group chief executive David Lock said the export demand in WA is likely to increase because many countries are banning fresh pork imports from nations affected by the virus.

"The export demand will probably increase," Mr Lock said.

"Countries like the US may be prohibited from exporting their pigs into Asia.

"Singapore, for example, will need to look for healthy supply sources."

The swine flu outbreak over the weekend has already killed more than 100 people in Mexico and other North Americans have showed signs of the symptoms, but the chance of Australia being affected is reported as being very minimal.

"WA has the most isolated production facilities and we have extremely healthy pigs," Mr Lock said.

"WA has strong biosecurity measures in place, which prevents people from wandering in and out as they please.

"This already strong control will be tightened."

Mr Lock said consumers should not be worried about eating pork and so far there has been no signs that the industry has been affected.

"There is no issue of eating pork and we will be reinforcing that there are no issues," he said.

"There are no infected pigs in Australia, so there is no risk to people from eating pork.

"It would be devastating if consumers got the idea that pork is now dangerous to eat because this will badly affect the pork industry which has already struggled in the past."

However, Mr Lock said extreme caution does need to be taken when importing pigs.

"The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS), who have allowed imports from the US and Canada in the past, need to be vigilant in what they are permitting to be imported," he said.

West Australian Pork Producers' Association (WAPPA) executive officer Russell Cox said the Australian pork industry won't be affected and consumers shouldn't be worried.

"Based on all the evidence that has been provided to this organisation there is no concern about food safety, simply because Australia does not have a swine flu pig herd," Mr Cox said.

"Swine flu does not exist in the Australian pig herd and the WA herd has one of the highest health status of any herd in the world.

"The industry's key strategy is to safeguard this status by maintaining strict on-farm biosecurity protocols to protect WA's $350 million industry." key local markets and export markets into Singapore and other Asian countries."

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