China has suspended poultry imports from a Tyson Foods plant in Springdale, Arkansas, because of concerns about a recent COVID-19 outbreak at the facility. On June 19, the company announced that 481 of its workers tested positive for COVID-19 at locations in Arkansas, nearly half of whom were at the Springdale plant.
“We are confident our products are safe and we’re hopeful consultations between the US and Chinese governments will resolve this matter,” Tyson representatives said in a statement to CNN Business. They added that the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Department of Agriculture (DoA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (USDA) all agree that “there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.”
China currently deals with a new outbreak, originally linked to a wholesale food market in Beijing. Concerning the decision to suspend imports, Chinese health officials warned the virus could be “hidden” on packaging of imported frozen food products, announcing it will increase and strengthen inspections of all shipments from overseas.
The Asian country represents a very important market for Tyson Foods, as the company stated back in February that Chinese orders for pork increased nearly 600% in its fiscal first quarter when compared to a year earlier.