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China moves to suspend exports from two meat plants in Brazil over COVID-19 worries

16 July 2020

The Chinese government has asked Brazil to stop exports from two meat plants over concerns about COVID-19 outbreaks in food processing centres in the country.

According to sources speaking to Reuters, China has already blocked exports from six meat processing plants in Brazil, which has the second-highest coronavirus infection rate in the world.

According to a source speaking on condition of anonymity, of the two additional plants China wants to suspend, one processes poultry and another produces beef.

China is the largest buyer of Brazilian beef, chicken and pork.

Brazilian newspaper Valor Econômico earlier reported the request, without citing a source.

Brazil's Agriculture Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The request, delivered in a letter to the Brazilian Embassy in Beijing, has yet to arrive in Brazil for the government to consider a response, the source said.

Brazilian Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias has said there is no evidence the coronavirus is transmitted in food.

The letter from the Chinese authorities requested information related to 12 other meat plants, seeking to find out whether media reports of coronavirus outbreaks in those facilities were true, the person said.

Lobby group ABPA said the meat industry was taking precautions and had introduced protocols on March 12 to combat the spread of the virus in plants. It disputed data released by labour prosecutors on outbreaks in plants.

"The virus was not born in a meat plant. Meat plants have been demonised," Francisco Turra, ABPA president, told a news conference on Wednesday 15 July.

He said using only rapid testing to gauge meat plant infections distorted reality, as they are not as accurate as PCR molecular testing.

The Brazilian government has requested that Chinese authorities reverse the bans officially in place, Turra said, adding suspensions were unjustified.

Read more about this story here.



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