China Stops Tyson Imports Over Covid-19 Concerns

Nation had earlier expressed worry over fish and meat imports after surfaces at Beijing market tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

China has stopped importing products from U.S. meat producer Tyson  (TSN) - Get Report over the weekend over fears of coronavirus contamination.

On Friday, Tyson revealed that after testing thousands of employees, around 13% turned up to have the novel virus.

Now China's government -- which had earlier last week raised concerns of contaminated food imports -- says it's closing the doors on the company's products for now.

All products from the company's plant in Arkansas on the way to China or already at the nation's ports are also reportedly to be seized by customs.

"At Tyson, we’re confident our products are safe and we’re hopeful consultations between the U.S. and Chinese governments will resolve this matter," said a Tyson spokesperson in an email to TheStreet on Sunday evening. 

"Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, and we work closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service to ensure that we produce all of our food in full compliance with government safety requirements. It is important to note that the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, USDA and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration agree that there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food."

Of the 3,748 employees who were tested onsite at its main location, 481 tested positive, said Tyson in a statement on Friday, noting that about 95% of the workers were not showing symptoms at the time of diagnosis.

The company said the total is in addition to 212 positive cases among Tyson employees earlier identified as testing positive. 

Last week, Reuters reported that China found meat and seafood sections of a major market in Beijing were contaminated with the coronavirus.

In February, the World Health Organization warned that in general coronaviruses -- but not specifically the novel virus that causes Covid-19 -- could last up to two years if frozen.

"In general, coronaviruses are very stable in a frozen state according to studies of other coronaviruses, which have shown survival for up to two years at -20°C. Studies conducted on SARS-CoV ad MERS-CoV indicate that these viruses can persist on different surfaces for up to a few days depending on a combination of parameters such as temperature, humidity and light," wrote the WHO.

This story has been updated with a response from Tyson.