U.S. Lifts French Poultry Ban

France's agriculture minister announced that the United States is lifting an eight-month ban on imports of some French pork and poultry products — including cold cuts and foie gras.

Herve Gaymard (search) said Sunday that the U.S. decision followed inspections by American health officials of four meat and poultry production sites in France over the last month, according to ministry spokeswoman Frederique Bayre (search).

U.S. officials imposed the ban in February, expressing concerns about food safety.

"The United States, I am happy to announce today, has lifted the embargo and authorized anew the importationucts, attesting to the quality and reliability of our system," Bayre quoted Gaymard as saying at a food conference in suburban Paris.

The series of inspections from Sept. 19 to Oct. 14 "have definitively lifted their doubts" about the health standards of the French products, Bayre said.

French authorities were notified Saturday, she said.

The move affects four agricultural producers of the 11 that faced the ban. The seven others did not agree to new inspections, and will not be authorized to export to the United States until they do, Bayre said.

The European Union (search) in March argued against the ban before a World Trade Organization committee, insisting it was excessive and deserved to be lifted.

In its own submission to the WTO committee, the United States said its ban was based on "sanitation deficiencies" in meat plants certified by French officials. It argued the problems had existed over a "multiyear period" and that France had been given advance notice of the ban.