China suspends beef imports from Cargill plant

High River plant on long list of blocked facilities

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China has temporarily suspended imports of beef from Cargill’s major beef packing plant at High River, Alta., part of a long list of meat plants blocked in the last half of June.

The Reuters news service on Monday published a list of meat packing plants from around the world which during June and early July were temporarily suspended from exporting to China.

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The list as reported included beef, pork and poultry plants from Brazil, Argentina, Germany, the U.K., Denmark, the Netherlands and Italy, as well as an unspecified Tyson poultry plant in the U.S. and an unspecified Cargill beef plant in Canada.

A Cargill representative said via email Monday the company had no comment on the matter “at this time,” other than to confirm that the temporary suspension, which took effect June 28, is on the company’s High River facility.

Apart from China, the High River plant is approved to export to Hong Kong, the United States, Japan and eight other countries, and China’s decision is not expected to affect the plant’s overall rate of output.

The reason for the suspension wasn’t specified in the Reuters item, though several other plants on the list were noted as having been affected by outbreaks of COVID-19 among employees.

The High River plant underwent a two-week shutdown in April following a significant outbreak of COVID-19. That outbreak ultimately led to infections among about half of the plant’s 2,000-odd employees, including two workers who died of the illness.

China, where the COVID-19 pandemic originated, has in recent weeks sought guarantees from international food suppliers that their products are free of the novel coronavirus that causes the disease. Some exporters have responded with declarations rather than guarantees. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.

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