France Bans Import of Live Pigs From U.S., Japan on Hog Epidemic

May 05, 2014 4:10 am ET

May 5 (Bloomberg) -- France, the European Union’s third- biggest pork producer, banned imports of live pigs from the U.S. in response to an outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus that has spread to at least 29 U.S. states.

The ban dated April 30 also includes pig sperm and products such as blood and manure, and extends to Canada, Mexico and Japan, which have also found cases of the viral disease, the Agriculture Ministry wrote in an online statement.

U.S. wholesale pork prices have jumped 35 percent this year as the hog virus reduced supplies. The new variety of the disease is more virulent than earlier versions found in Europe in the 1970s and in China in the 1980s, killing more than 90 percent of piglets before weaning, the ministry said.

“The two main sources of transfer of the disease are the introduction of a live animal excreting the virus or animal feed that contains contaminated pork products,” the ministry wrote. “The French authorities have taken several measures to deal with this disease.”

The virus also impacts growing and adult pigs, according to the statement. An outbreak can “quickly” decimate the animals, with dramatic economic consequences for affected farms, the ministry said.

France suspended imports pending a possible European decision, the ministry wrote. Germany is the EU’s largest pig producer, followed by Spain and France, Eurostat data show.

The disease isn’t transmissible to humans, and pork consumption poses no health problems, according to the ministry.