Anise star spice amid flu scare, China minister says

BEIJING Thu Apr 30, 2009 12:58pm EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Scared your favorite pork dish may harbor swine flu? China's Health Minister advises adding some star anise.

The numbing spice is a key raw ingredient for Tamiflu, one of the main anti-virals used to treat swine flu, and is also a popular flavoring in Chinese cuisine.

"We can cook up some pork with star anise. This will certainly be a good treatment (for the flu)," Health Minister Chen Zhu joked at a news conference.

China has not reported any confirmed swine flu cases, but has stepped up border checks and banned the import of pigs and pork from Mexico and the United States.

Pork is the most popular animal protein in the Chinese diet, accounting for more than 60 percent of China's total meat consumption. But experts say well-cooked pork contains no flu risk.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard, editing by Miral Fahmy)

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