(Updates with comments from pork processor Olymel and CFIA)
By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba May 30 A Canadian shipment
of pig feet to China, produced by Olymel LP, has tested positive
for residues of banned growth drug ractopamine and may curb
future trade, Canadian government and industry officials say.
China views the tainted shipment as a "systemic failure" of
Canada's program that certifies pork sent to China is free of
ractopamine, and the situation "could affect future pork
exports," according to an email to the industry from the
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The email circulated on
Monday and was obtained by Reuters.
The pig feet were shipped by privately-held Olymel, and were
produced at the its Vallee-Jonction, Quebec slaughter and
processing plant, company spokesman Richard Vigneault said.
Olymel, one of Canada's two biggest pork processors, is
investigating how it may have shipped the pork with ractopamine
to China, Vigneault said.
CFIA has temporarily stopped signing certificates that allow
the plant to export to China, and asked the company to send back
any other shipments that may be in transit to that country,
spokeswoman Lisa Murphy said.
Chinese inspection authority AQSIQ notified CFIA on Friday
that the 27,000-kilogram (60,000-lb) shipment of frozen pork
hocks, also known as pig feet, contained ractopamine, she said.
China, the world's biggest pork consumer, is one of Canada's
biggest pork markets, importing 314,000 tonnes worth C$587
million in 2016, according to Statistics Canada. Pig feet are a
popular dish in China.
The last time China detected ractopamine in a Canadian pork
shipment, in 2015, it removed several Canadian processing plants
from its list of eligible exporters to China, said Gary Stordy,
spokesman for the Canadian Pork Council, an industry group.
“We're taking this as a serious situation," Stordy said. "We
want to understand what happened in the program and how we can
take corrective action."
CFIA certifies that Canadian pork sent to China is free of
ractopamine, based on verification from farmers, feed mills and
pork processors. China bans ractopamine, sold as an Eli Lilly &
Co drug called Paylean, because of concerns about food
Chinese authorities have stepped up testing of Canadian pork
for ractopamine as a result of the tainted shipment, CFIA said.
A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa could not be
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; additional
reporting by Theo Waters in Chicago; Editing by Steve Orlofsky
and Marguerita Choy)