Press conference on forestalling inbound transmissions, strengthening supervision over imported cold-chain food

The Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council held a press conference on July 10, 2020 in Beijing to brief the media on measures to forestall inbound COVID-19 transmissions and strengthen supervision over imported cold-chain food. July 14, 2020

Phoenix TV:

People have been wondering whether the imported cold-chain foods carry the coronavirus since the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing. And we are aware that the customs authority has launched inspection and coronavirus testing of imported foods in regard to cold-chain products. Can you tell us more in this regard? Thank you.

Bi Kexin:

Thank you for your question. To block any transmission of COVID-19 through imported cold-chain foods, the customs authorities have implemented careful inspection and testing of imported cold-chain foods. As of 11:59 p.m. yesterday, we had tested a total of 227,934 samples, including 43,964 product samples, 147,568 inner and outer packaging samples, and 36,402 environmental samples. Among them, 227,928 samples all tested negative. On July 3, Dalian customs reported that one sample collected from the inner wall of a container carrying frozen white shrimp from Ecuador's Industrial Pesquera Santa Priscila S.A. (registration number: 24887), and three frozen white shrimp outer packing samples of Empacreci S.A. (registration number: 681) had tested positive for the coronavirus. On the same day, Xiamen customs reported that two frozen white shrimp outer packaging samples of Empacadora Del Pacifico Sociedad Anonima Edpacif S.A. (registration number: 654) had tested positive for the coronavirus. Samples of the three Ecuadorian firms' shrimp products and inner packaging all tested negative. 

The nucleic acid sequence analysis of the positive samples and judgment of experts suggested that the three Ecuadorian firms' containers and product outer packing posed a risk of coronavirus contamination. Experts believe that, although the positive reaction didn't necessarily mean the samples were infectious, it did show that the related firms didn't have a proper food safety management system in place. 

To protect consumers' health, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) decided as from today to suspend the three Ecuadorian firms' registration qualification in China, halt imports from them, and return or destroy the temporarily seized goods. The GAC has notified the Ecuadorian authorities of the findings and this decision, seeking an investigation and report as soon as possible. It also urged Ecuadorian authorities to intensify supervision over firms exporting foods to China, pressing them to fully implement the COVID-19 and Food Safety: Guidance for Food Businesses, a guidance document jointly issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), improve their food safety management system, strengthen safety and health management during production, processing, and transportation, and make sure foods exported to China are safe. 

Next, the GAC will intensify origin control of imported cold-chain foods, reinforce port inspection and quarantine, so as to ensure the total safety of imported foods. Thank you.

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