US lifts French food ban

18th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 17 (AFP) - French Agriculture Minister Herve Gaymard said Sunday that the United States had lifted a ban imposed earlier this year on imports of the country's foie gras.

PARIS, Oct 17 (AFP) - French Agriculture Minister Herve Gaymard said Sunday that the United States had lifted a ban imposed earlier this year on imports of the country's foie gras.  

"The US has just lifted its embargo by again authorising the import of foie gras (duck and goose liver: literally fat liver) and French charcuterie (cooked meats) products," he told reporters at the opening of a food trade fair in Paris.  

"We have just received a few hours ago the green light from the American authorities," Gaymard said.  

"That is evidence of the trustworthiness of the French food safety system."  

An official announcement is expected during the next few days, ministry sources said. They said that US inspectors had been to look at French companies regarded as suspect from September 19 to October 14.  

The ban was imposed in February after US authorities raised questions about health and safety at French processing plants. It followed a visit by US veterinary officials which found French standards did not meet those in the US.  

The ban came shortly after the European Union had decided to prohibit imports of US poultry because of a case of bird flu in the United States.  

US officials said it was the result of a constant monitoring of food imports into the country.  

It affected some 450,000 kilos (976,000 pounds) of French meat imports into the United States.  

Experts say the lifting of the ban has more symbolic than economic significance. French foie gras exports amount to less than one percent of US production.  

Last month California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation banning the force-feeding of ducks and geese, an integral part of foie gras production.  

But the new law will not come into effect until 2012 and is unlikely to have much impact in France.  

France produces 85 percent of the world's foie gras and eats 90 percent of it. More than 10,000 people are engaged in producing it, 3,000 of them specialists, and the industry provides 30,000 jobs, according to the body representing producers.  

The EU and the United States have been at loggerheads over a number of food issues, including US exports of beef treated with hormones, genetically-modified crops and other products.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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