U.S. China flags and Perdue

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue and Minister Bi Jingquan of the China Food and Drug Administration met September 7, 2017 to discuss the two nations’ food regulatory environments.

China has asked food exporters into the country to sign a declaration that their product is not contaminated by COVID-19, according to a Reuters report.

The country began testing imported food for the disease after a recent COVID-19 outbreak in a wholesale food market.

“It’s very costly and time-consuming to test all products. They’re asking suppliers to sign this letter so they can go back to normal,” said a meat exporter who received the letter.

Another meat exporter told Reuters, “If any shipments are found to have COVID-19, they will be destroyed anyway, with or without the letter.”

Brazilian meat processors JBS SA, BRF, Minerva, and Marfrig have signed the declaration already. China has also halted chicken imports from a Tyson facility due to COVID-19 infections in the plant’s employees.

“At Tyson, we’re confident our products are safe and we’re hopeful consultations between the U.S. and Chinese governments will resolve this matter,” a Tyson spokesman said.

In response to the action, USA Poultry and Egg Export Council President James Sumner said, “Delisting this Tyson facility served no purpose but to make a public statement that they were taking an action, regardless of its impact.”

USDA also responded to China’s actions, saying, “There is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging. The U.S. food safety system, overseen by our agencies, is the global leader in ensuring the safety of our food products, including product for export.” 

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