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Avian Flu Leads to Mexican Ban on Some U.S. Poultry Imports

MEXICO CITY - Mexico's Agriculture Ministry said yesterday that it has banned imports of live birds and some poultry products from the United States following the detection of avian flu in Texas, according to a Dow Jones report.

According to the ministry, it will admit products like eggs and meat that have been heat-treated for at least 10 minutes at 60 degrees Celsius. Previously the poultry ban only covered 10 U.S. states.

Mexico imported about 160,000 tons of U.S. chicken, worth nearly $100 million in 2003, making it the second-largest international market for the meat. Mexico itself is the world's fourth-largest chicken producer, having produced 2.1 million tons of chicken meat in 2003. Mexico produces most of its own eggs.

Mexico joins the European Union, South Korea, and the Philippines in banning U.S. poultry products. The bird flu outbreak near San Antonio, in south central Texas, was caused by a different strain of virus than the one that has killed 22 people in Asia.

The poultry decision comes on top of Mexico's December ban on U.S. beef following a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, in Washington state. Prior to the ban, Mexico was the second-largest importer of U.S. beef.
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