China’s irritated trade partners push back on coronavirus food tests
By Dominique Patton and Emma Farge, Thomson Reuters
via The Mighty 790 KFGO | KFGO | Nov 17, 2020
Fargo, ND, USA / BEIJING/GENEVA (Reuters) - Major food-producing countries are growing increasingly frustrated with China's scrutiny of imported products and are calling on it to stop aggressive testing for the coronavirus, which some say is tantamount to a trade restriction.
China says it has found the virus on the packaging of products from 20 countries including German pork, Brazilian beef and Indian fish, but foreign officials say the lack of evidence produced by authorities means it is damaging trade and hurting the reputation of imported food without reason.
In a World Trade Organization meeting on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6, Canada called China's testing of imported foods and rejection of products that had positive nucleic acid tests "unjustified trade restrictions" and urged it to stop it, said a Geneva-based trade official briefed on the meeting who declined to be identified.
Supported by Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Britain and the United States, Canada argued that China had not provided scientific justification for the measures, said the official.
Canada's Geneva-based mission to the WTO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
China has only intensified its imported food screening since then.
This week, the Global Times, a tabloid backed by the ruling Communist Party, suggested that the presence of the novel coronavirus on imported food raised the possibility that the virus, widely believed to have originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, may have come from overseas.
China began testing chilled and frozen food imports for the virus in June, after a cluster of infections among workers at a wholesale food market in the capital.
The World Health Organization says neither food nor packaging are known transmission routes for the virus.
But China, which has all-but stamped out local transmission of the disease, says there is risk of the virus re-entering the country on food products.
'IS IT TRUE?' ...
China finds COVID-19 on beef from Latin America, New Zealand
via New York Post - November 16, 2020
BEIJING — The Chinese city of Jinan said over the weekend it had found coronavirus on beef and tripe and their packaging from Brazil, Bolivia and New Zealand, while two other provincial capitals detected it on packaging of pork from Argentina.
China is ramping up testing of frozen foods after repeatedly detecting the virus on imported products, triggering disrupting import bans, even as the World Health Organization says the risk of catching COVID-19 from frozen food is low.
In Jinan, capital of eastern China’s Shandong province, the goods involved were imported by a unit of Guotai International Group 002091.SZ, and Shanghai Zhongli Development Trade, the city’s municipal health commission said late Saturday.
They entered through ports in Shanghai, it said, without naming the companies that shipped the products to China. More than 7,500 people who may have been exposed tested negative for coronavirus, it said.
The frozen pork cases were reported in Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan province, and Xian, capital of Shaanxi. It was not immediately clear if the two cases were connected.
The samples that tested positive in Zhengzhou came from a 24-ton batch of frozen pork sent from a storage facility in Qingdao, in Shandong, authorities said.
China, the world’s top beef buyer, last week found coronavirus on the packaging of Argentinian beef in Shandong and Jiangsu, and on the packaging of Brazilian beef in Wuhan...