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Contact: Beth Gaston
Carol Blake

Statement by Administrator Thomas J. Billy
Food Safety and Inspection Service

August 16, 1999

        "FSIS has released from port-of-entry hold all pork products exported from Belgium. This action was based on information provided by Belgium and the test results for PCBs and dioxin. Between Jan. 1 and May 31, 4,366,442 pounds of pork came to the U.S. from Belgium.

        "Meat and poultry products produced in European Union member states have been on hold at U.S. ports-of-entry since June 3, because feed contaminated with dioxin and PCBs may have been fed to animals in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. The hold was necessary because of concerns that open trading among EU member states may have spread contamination beyond its original boundaries.

        "The Belgian government has documented that all pork used in products processed for the U.S. market originates in Denmark, the Netherlands or other approved countries-no Belgian meat was used in products exported to the U.S. Future shipments of pork products from Belgium will be held and tested for PCBs unless certification is given that the meat originates from an approved third country that is not itself under hold and test restrictions. Such restrictions continue in effect for any product that contains pork from Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

        "Additionally, FSIS lifted import restrictions on meat and poultry products from Austria. Previously, on Aug. 2, FSIS announced release of product from Germany; on July 20, FSIS announced release of product from Spain, France, and the Netherlands; on July 2, FSIS announced release of product from Finland, Ireland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom; on June 18, FSIS announced it was releasing product from Denmark; and on June 11, FSIS released Parma ham from Italy and Serrano ham from Spain because of the long curing times for these products.

        "Product from Italy (except Parma ham) remains on hold until information and test results give FSIS assurance that they are safe for American consumers."


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