POLAND, Warsaw. Following a US Department of Agriculture decision to suspend pork meat imports from Poland over fears surrounding African Swine Fever, Polish Agriculture Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski has announced that an agreement has been reached and the ban will be lifted.
"A fast reaction and strong arguments allow Polish pork meat from 16 facilities to return, with no restrictions, to the US market," Ardanowski said in a statement. A further three meat businesses from Poland will only be able to export fully cooked pork meat products to the US.
The restrictions were introduced on 18 October, after the US' Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) voiced concerns over the locations of some Polish meat business facilities, which were authorised to export their products to the US. However, Polish meat industry players have denied that their activities take place within areas affected by African Swine Fever (ASF).
On 19 October, Poland's state-run General Veterinary Inspectorate (GVI) issued an official request to remove the restrictions to its US counterpart. "The Polish side strongly disagrees with the American side's stance, because deliveries of pork meat are carried out in accordance with the agreed terms, which means they are from zones that are not covered by the formal restrictions imposed by the EU in relation to ASF," the statement said.
Local meat processor Animex, the Poland-based subsidiary of US company Smithfield Foods, was one of the companies impacted by the latest restrictions. Andrzej Pawelczak, PR director and spokesperson for the Polish offshoot, has released a statement in which he said Animex's pork meat operations were located outside the areas affected by ASF.
The Animex Foods facility in Ełk, named by the American side, is located in the country's north-eastern region, about 223km from the country's capital, Warsaw. It is located outside the zones that are subject to ASF restrictions. In addition to its facility in Ełk, Animex operates facilities in Morliny, Szczecin, Starachowice, Ilawa, Suwalki, Opole, and Kutno, according to data released by the meat business. The company claims to be the largest producer of pork, poultry and processed meat products in the Polish market, as well as the country's biggest meat exporter. Animex Foods became part of Smithfield Foods in 1999 and, in 2013, became a subsidiary of China's WH Group.