WELLINGTON - New Zealand said on Monday it had not been notified of any issues with its frozen meat exports after Chinese authorities said the coronavirus was found in its beef products.
The Chinese city of Jinan said over the weekend it had found COVID-19 in beef and tripe, and on their packaging, from Brazil, Bolivia and New Zealand, while two other provincial capitals detected it on packaging on pork from Argentina.
“New Zealand has not been informed of this officially by the Chinese authorities,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.
“New Zealand officials are working now to ascertain the origin and veracity of these reports.”
Authorities in Jinan, capital of eastern China’s Shandong province, said the goods involved were imported by a unit of Guotai International Group, and Shanghai Zhongli Development Trade. They entered through ports in Shanghai, they said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in an interview on state broadcaster TVNZ on Monday that she had been advised it was not New Zealand’s beef that had COVID-19 in it.
“We’ve been advised it’s Argentinian beef, so we are just trying to get to the bottom of what’s being reported there,” Ardern said.
China, the world’s top beef buyer, found the coronavirus last week on the packaging of Argentine beef in Shandong and Jiangsu, and on the packaging of Brazilian beef in Wuhan.
China has ramped up testing on frozen foods after detecting the virus in imported products, triggering import bans, even though the World Health Organization has said the risk of catching COVID-19 from frozen food is low.
Reporting by Praveen Menon.