Tyson urges China to reverse ban on US poultry plant with coronavirus cases

Tyson Foods Inc is lobbying Beijing to lift a ban on US chicken shipments from a plant where workers tested positive for COVID-19.
calendar icon 4 August 2020
clock icon 3 minute read

Reuters reports that Tyson Foods President Dean Banks made the announcement on 3 August.

China has emerged as the largest export market for American poultry, overtaking Mexico this spring, after Beijing in November ended a nearly five-year embargo on imports from the United States.

Since June, China's customs authority has blocked chicken from Tyson's plant in Springdale, Arkansas, as part of an all-out effort to control the spread of COVID-19 in China. Globally, Beijing has suspended imports from more than 20 overseas plants processing pork, beef and poultry.

"We've been interacting with them and making sure that they have all the information they need about the precautionary measures, the protective measures that plant has taken," Banks told reporters on a call.

"We'd love to continue to export product from that facility, but that's in the hands of the Chinese government."

Tyson on 3 August also named Banks as its new chief executive and reported quarterly earnings that were hurt by the pandemic.

More than 16,000 US meatpacking workers have been infected with COVID-19 at dozens of plants, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, said the United States is lucky Beijing suspended imports from just one American plant. As of last week, China had blocked six Brazilian facilities, according to Brazil's agriculture ministry.

China is also testing imported meat and seafood for COVID-19, although processors say food cannot transmit the coronavirus. China has increased imports as a deadly pig disease has decimated its herd over the past two years.

"We've seen a bottleneck in ports emerge a little bit due to testing," Banks said. "Their demand is very, very strong right now and so they're doing everything they can to keep things moving."

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