BRIEF-Tyson Foods Signed Certification Requested By China Saying That Meat Shipments Are Free Of Novel Coronavirus -Company Spokesman
June 23, 2020 / 6:57 PM
Tyson Foods Inc:
* TYSON FOODS SIGNED CERTIFICATION REQUESTED BY CHINA SAYING THAT MEAT SHIPMENTS ARE FREE OF NOVEL CORONAVIRUS -COMPANY SPOKESMAN
US meat industry puzzled by China's import ban from northwest Arkansas Tyson Foods plant
Jun 23, 2020
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — China's decision to ban imports from a single Tyson Foods poultry plant where there was a coronavirus outbreak has raised concerns about the implications on the U.S. meat industry if the action is expanded to other plants.
Chinese customs officials didn't hint about expanding the ban in a short statement it issued about suspending imports from the plant in Springdale, Arkansas. The country imposed a similar ban last week on pork imports from a German plant where a number of workers tested positive for COVID-19, but it hasn't taken action against other U.S. beef, pork and poultry plants that have seen outbreaks among workers.
Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, said he hopes the move won't hurt the overall relationship with China, which had been improving after a new trade deal was signed early this year.
"Hopefully it's not going to mean anything," Sumner said. "If it remains at just one plant, it will not have any meaningful impact, but we don't know what's going to happen."
A U.S. Agriculture Department spokesman said Monday that there is no evidence of the virus being transmitted by food or food packaging.
"This action by the Chinese is completely unjustified," National Chicken Council spokesman Tom Super said.
Sumner said the time it takes for meat produced in the United States to reach China would make it especially difficult for any virus to survive.
"It's not transmissible in meat," he said. "Plus, that product is frozen and spends 30 days in a container en route to China. So there is zero possibility of a live virus from the US showing up in frozen poultry as it has been shipped by ocean carrier halfway around the world."
Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said the company remains confident that its products are safe, and it hopes the issue can be resolved in trade talks between the two countries.
Last week, Tyson announced the results of coronavirus testing at its facilities in Benton and Washington counties in Arkansas. It said that 481 of the 3,748 workers it tested were positive for COVID-19, and most of those workers didn't show any symptoms of the illness.
There have been other COVID-19 outbreaks at meatpacking plants around the United States, including in South Dakota, Iowa, North Carolina, Nebraska, and Iowa.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson called China's move "very troubling" since there's been no evidence of the virus being transmitted from food, and questioned why the facility was singled out.
"I don't know whether China is playing politics or just making bad judgments, but that's not good or helpful at all in our relationship," Hutchinson said.
Jeff Moon, who is a former assistant U.S. trade representative for China and now a trade consultant, said the action could be a political move to remind the Trump administration how dependent America is on the Chinese market for exports, but it's hard to tell for certain what is behind the ban.
"There is a legitimate interest in promoting food safety, but it also serves a much broader political purpose. China can choose to implement this ban for as long as it wants to or if it thinks it is useful and appropriate, it can lift it tomorrow. American companies frequently face this kind of limbo when dealing with the Chinese market," Moon said.
International trade was helped this year by China's promise to buy $40 billion in U.S. agricultural products per year under a trade pact signed in January although there have been some recent questions about whether China will fulfill that pledge. China became the fourth-largest market for American poultry in the first quarter after it lifted a five-year ban on those products...
Iowa finds no violations at Tyson plant with deadly outbreak
Ryan J. Foley, Associated Press
via Des Moines Register (IA) - Jun 23, 2020
Iowa's workplace safety agency says an inspection did not uncover any violations at Tyson Foods' largest pork processing plant, where several employees died after contracting the coronavirus.
The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Administration closed its inquiry into the Tyson plant in Waterloo earlier this month without sanctioning the meat company.
County officials and workers have alleged that in March and part of April workers did not have adequate personal protective equipment to stop the spread of the virus and were not social distancing. The company says it has taken numerous safety steps since then, including requiring masks, screening for symptoms, and frequent testing.
Black Hawk County has said that more than 1,000 of the Waterloo plant's 2,800 workers had tested positive for the virus or antibodies by early May.
The Associated Press has confirmed that at least five workers have died after getting the virus, most recently a 44-year-old maintenance worker who died on Memorial Day after a lengthy illness. The other deaths have included a 65-year-old laundry department worker, a 58-year-old Bosnian refugee, a 60-year-old Latino father and a refugee from Congo.
Iowa OSHA says it inspected the plant April 20 after Democratic lawmakers filed a complaint alleging that unsafe working conditions caused the outbreak, which devastated the broader community. Within days, the plant suspended operations, reopening about two weeks later with new safety protocols.
Iowa OSHA Administrator Russell Perry said in a letter dated June 11 that his agency found "no violations of the Iowa occupational safety and health standards on the date of the inspection."
"You may have listed conditions on your complaint that were not within the scope of our jurisdiction or items did not exist during the inspection," he wrote to Rep. Ras Smith, a Waterloo Democrat who was among the complainants.
Smith, whose district includes the plant and provided the letter to AP, said Tuesday he was baffled by the decision. He said the agency appeared to be protecting the company and not its workers.
"If they didn't find anything, why did Tyson feel the need to shut down and make some improvements?" Smith said. "It seems as though Iowa OSHA is either complicit or refusing to do the right thing."
State Sen. Bill Dotzler, a Waterloo Democrat who also filed the complaint, said he was stunned.
"It's pretty clear that they couldn't find water if they were standing in a river," he said of Iowa OSHA.
Iowa's OSHA database also shows that the agency's recent inspections of Tyson pork processing plants in Columbus Junction and Perry have been closed without finding any violations...