China suspends pork imports from Brazilian plant over Covid-19 concerns

China has suspended all imports of pork from a Brazilian pork plant operated by Aurora Alimentos over unanswered concerns about Covid-19.

According to Reuters, the Brazilian agriculture ministry confirmed that on December 28, Chinese customs authorities enacted an import ban affecting Aurora’s plant.

China has also issued similar suspensions against other Brazil-based meatpackers including JBS and BRF, although some of the bans have been already lifted.

The Brazilian agriculture ministry said China “requested information about Covid-19 cases at the plant”.

The Brazilian Animal Protein Association (ABPA) said it is supporting Aurora Alimentos and supplying Brazil’s agriculture ministry with information that Chinese authorities may need to reverse the ban.

“This is an isolated event in the past,” the ABPA said.

All information and demonstrations of Aurora’s good practices have been shared in detail with Chinese authorities.

The APBA added that the company is enforcing strict Covid-19 protocols.

China has increased pork imports while working to restore hog herds decimated by African swine fever (ASF).

Imports reached 3.95 million tonnes over January-November 2020, up 115% from the same period a year earlier.

ABPA reiterated that there is no scientific evidence of the risk of contamination by the novel coronavirus through food consumption.

China bans German pork imports

Last September, China announced it had banned any imports of German pork after a case of ASF was found in a dead wild boar in Germany.

The Chinese customs office and agriculture ministry affected the ban immediately, and it covered all pork products. Pork products which were already on route to China were to be returned or destroyed

The ban was an enormous blow for German pork producers, who exported around £924 million worth of pork to China in 2019.

After ASF forced China to cull around 50% of all its pigs since 2018, it turned to the global markets for pork, which was a boost for the German pork industry, but also drove up prices in Germany and around the world.

According to the German office of national statistics, the country exported around £391 million worth of pork to China between January and April 2020.