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Chinese City to Halt Frozen Seafood, Meat Imports on Virus Worry

Frozen meat Photographer: Fred Tanneau/AFP via Getty Images

BLOOMBERG, AUGUST 17, 2020

Order comes after nearby Shenzhen found virus on chicken wings | Virus expert says no major problem as long as food cooked well

The Cold Chain Association of China’s southern coastal city of Guangzhou ordered all member companies to suspend imports of frozen meat and seafood from coronavirus-hit areas, the city’s Internet Information Office said on its official Weibo account, without specifying areas or countries.

The association also ordered all workers who come into contact with frozen meat and seafood to be tested for the coronavirus, and that they get tested once a week, it said on Sunday.

The order was issued after the local government in the nearby city of Shenzhen found the virus on a surface sample of chicken wings imported from Brazil, and there were earlier cases in other Chinese cities where the pathogen was identified on packaging samples of imported seafood.

“I don’t think there is any major problem if you clean the food thoroughly and cook it well before eating,” infectious disease expert Zhong Nanshan said in an interview with a TV news outlet Sunday. “There is maybe a chance the virus can be transmitted from food to humans, but that isn’t the primary means.” The interview was posted on Weibo by Guangzhou’s Internet Information Office.

Chen Wei, executive vice president of the China Meat Association, told the Beijing News that suspending meat imports nationwide is not recommended because current outbreaks are isolated. “If there is a complete ban, it will affect the availability of abundant supply and stable prices, and be a huge detriment to consumers,” Chen said.

The World Health Organization has said there have been no examples proving that the virus could be transmitted as food borne, if it actually was in food.

— With assistance by James Poole, and Zhixin Wan

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