Tyson Foods Shares Slide As China Suspends Chicken Imports After Coronavirus Outbreak in Arkansas Plant

Tyson is investigating a coronavirus outbreak at its Springdale, Arkansas plant, but noted that health experts say there is "no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food."

Tyson Foods TSN shares slumped lower Monday after China said it would suspend poultry imports from the world's biggest producer following an outbreak of coronavirus infections at its plant in Springdale, Arkansas.

China's General Administration of Customs announced the decision via its website on Sunday, adding to a suspension of pork products from a COVID-19 hit production facility in Germany last week. Coronavirus cases have been rising in China for that past ten days, lead by a surprise outbreak in the capital city of Beijing. In fact, PepsiCo China said it shuttered one of its food-processing plants in the city's Daxing district Sunday after discovering positive tests among a number of employees. 

As part of its effort to control the recent outbreak, China's customs officials have told food producers from around the world that they're willing to take "all necessary measures to eliminate food safety risks and protect consumer health." 

Tyson said last Friday that 481 workers, from a labor force of 3,748 in two Arkansas facilities, tested positive for the coronavrius, but noted that only 26 of those who tested positive were showing symptoms of the disease. 

Tyson shares were marked 2.75% lower in early trading Monday to change hands at $61.50 each, a move that would extend the stock's year-to-date decline to around 32.4%.

Last month, posted weaker-than-expected second quarter earnings and warned that lower productivity, as well as higher costs, would continue to hit the bottom line in the current financial year.

That followed an Executive Order from President Donald Trump, which also applied to meat producing rivals Smithfield Foods and Cargill  (CARG) - Get Report, to keep their plants open in order to prevent food shortages from the coronavirus pandemic after Tyson chairman John Tyson said supply chains were 'breaking'.

"Closures threaten the continued functioning of the national meat and poultry supply chain, undermining critical infrastructure during the national emergency," the order said.