CHICAGO, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Importing pork rinds from Brazil and other nations threatens U.S. food safety, said critics of a new federal rule loosening import regulations.
"How essential is it that we start importing pork rinds from countries that have really bad diseases?" said Dave Griswold, a veterinarian at the Bureau of Animal Health in Pennsylvania's Department of Agriculture.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture relaxed the import rules at the request of Rudolph Foods Co. of Lima, Ohio, which owns a pork-rind factory in Chapeco, Brazil, a region with a history of foot-and-mouth disease.
In a story published Saturday, Rudolph food officials told The Wall Street Journal they would only ship pork skins from Brazil once the plant is certified as safe by the USDA.
Chicago's Evans Food Inc., a Rudolph competitor, opposed the rule change along with other U.S. makers of the popular fried pork snacks.
"It just takes one (infected) pig" to spread a disease, said Arturo Gutierrez de Velasco, director of food safety at Evans. "The risk is low, but the consequences are really high."