China temporarily suspends beef imports from Minerva Brazil plant

add Chinese customs statement on Thursday

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA, Sept 30 (Reuters)China on Wednesday said it would temporarily suspend imports from a beef plant owned by Brazilian meatpacker Minerva SA BEEF3.SA for a week, in the latest suspension amid concerns over coronavirus contamination in Brazilian meat plants.

The Chinese customs authority said in a statement on its website dated Wednesday that the suspension would take effect on Thursday and last for one week, after which imports could resume.

The statement did not give a reason for the suspension and identified the facility by its registration number as a plant in the Barretos municipality of Sao Paulo state.

According to a Chinese customs statement issued on Thursday, the authority said the suspension came after a package of frozen boneless beef from Minerva SA had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Minerva declined to comment. The company is South America’s largest exporter of beef, with China being the largest importer of Brazilian meat.

As the coronavirus ravaged Brazilian meat facilities with thousands of cases, China has halted meat imports from Brazilian food processors including Marfrig MRFG3.SA, JBS SA JBSS3.SA and BRF SA BRFS3.SA over contamination concerns in the past few months.

Not including the weeklong Minerva temporary suspension, a total of seven Brazilian meat plants remain suspended from exporting to China, with some of them having stopped shipments voluntarily, according to Chinese customs office records.

Marfrig’s chief executive said on Tuesday that he expects China to issue new export licenses to Brazilian and Argentine meat plants later this year, but did not give further details.

(Reporting by Nayara Figueiredo and Jake Spring, and Muyu Xu in Beijing Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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