USDA proposes parasite certification for pork

Article

Washington - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working to establish a voluntary trichinae-certification program for U.S. pork.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working to establish a voluntary trichinae-certification program for U.S. pork.

The proposed program would ensure that American producers standardize their protocols and offer overseas markets a USDA certification regarding the Trichinella spiralis protections in place at U.S. farms without having to test every animal and every product.

A parasitic roundworm found in many warm-blooded carnivores and omnivores, including swine, Trichinella spiralis is transmitted through the ingestion of infected muscle tissue. The main cause of its spread in swine is consumption of raw meat waste and rodents or other animals.

Because farm-management practices, biosecurity and farm hygiene all have improved significantly in 50 years, Trichinella spiralis is rare in the United States and not currently part of the country's testing program. However, the European Union and other overseas markets require testing of all imported fresh pork and fresh-pork products.

Under the proposed program, APHIS will certify pork-production sites that follow good production practices — including feed integrity, facility construction and condition — to reduce, eliminate or avoid the risk of animals being exposed to Trichinella spiralis.

Developed jointly by the USDA, the National Pork Board and the pork-processing industry, the program aims to enhance the ability of producers to export pork and pork products to overseas markets.

APHIS will consider comments on the program through mid-July, then make a decision on the certification protocol.

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