Despite the fact that modern production practices have virtually eliminated trichinae from the U.S. hog population, some countries still restrict U.S. pork exports.

For example, pork exported to Russia must either be frozen, according to a USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service rule, or every shipment must be tested and declared trichinae-free.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) says that expensive procedure could be avoided under a pilot U.S. Trichinae Certification Program. Goal of the pre-harvest program is to document to trading partners that management practices are being developed which limit exposure to the Trichinella spiralis organism to pigs. Adherence to practices can enable operations to be certified as trichinae-safe.

Pilot testing is expected to be completed next year and should lead to a nationwide, on-farm food safety program for the U.S. pork industry, says USMEF.

MEF recently teamed up with the National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council and USDA to educate touring Russian officials on the effort. U.S. officials hope to get Russian approval to participate in a pilot program to recognize the U.S. certification program as meeting or exceeding Russia’s current import regulations.

Russia was the fifth largest importer of U.S. pork and pork products in 2001, buying nearly 37,400 tons.