China finds coronavirus in frozen meat, packaging from Latin America and New Zealand

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FILE PHOTO: A worker cuts pieces of beef at the Marfrig group’s slaughterhouse in Promissao, 500 km northwest of Sao Paulo, October 7, 2011. REUTERS / Paulo Whitaker

BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese city of Jinan said over the weekend it had found coronavirus on beef and tripe and their wrappers from Brazil, Bolivia and New Zealand, while that two other provincial capitals detected it on packaging of pork from Argentina.

China is stepping up testing on frozen foods after repeatedly detecting the virus on imported products, which has disrupted import bans, even as the World Health Organization says the risk of catching the COVID-19 from frozen food is low.

In Jinan, capital of Shandong Province, in eastern China, the subject goods were imported by a unit of the Guotai International group. 002091.SZ, and Shanghai Zhongli Development Trade, the city’s municipal health commission said on Saturday evening.

They entered through the ports of Shanghai, he said, without naming the companies that were shipping the products to China. More than 7,500 people who may have been exposed have tested negative for the coronavirus, he said.

Cases of frozen pork have been reported in Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan Province, and Xian, capital of Shaanxi. It was not immediately clear whether the two cases were related.

The samples that tested positive in Zhengzhou came from a 24-ton batch of frozen pork sent from a storage facility in Qingdao, Shandong, authorities said.

China, the world’s largest beef buyer, last week discovered coronavirus on the packaging of Argentine beef in Shandong and Jiangsu, and on the packaging of Brazilian beef in Wuhan.

Separately, the city of Baotou in China’s Inner Mongolia region said it disinfected some products and vehicles at a company after an asymptomatic coronavirus case in the northern city of Tianjin came into contact with a batch of frozen pork from France.

It was not known whether the authorities suspected the person of having infected the meat or vice versa. Nucleic acid tests on 115 people came back negative, authorities said.

Report by Shivani Singh and Roxanne Liu in Beijing; additional reporting by Tom Daly; Edited by William Mallard and Gareth Jones

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