SPRINGDALE, ARK. – Within one week of Tyson Foods Inc. releasing coronavirus (COVID-19) test results at the company’s Springdale, Ark., poultry plant, trade officials from China announced that shipments of poultry from the facility would be banned.
“Since June 21, export of poultry slaughtering enterprises registered by Tyson Corp. of the United States with the registration number P5842 has been suspended,” said a statement from the office of China’s General Administration of Customs.
Trade officials in China said products from the Tyson facility that have arrived, or are about to arrive, in Hong Kong would be temporarily suspended by the customs department.
The ban of the company’s products from the Springdale operation, identified as Tyson’s poultry processing plant located there, was due to the result of employees testing positive for COVID-19, referring to recently discovered employees “with new pneumonia aggregation infection,” although no evidence indicates that the virus can be transmitted by food, a point reiterated by Tyson in its response to the action.
“It is important to note that the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USDA and the US Food and Drug Administration agree that there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food,” said Gary Mickelson, a spokesperson with Tyson.
“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,” he said.
This past November, China lifted a four-year ban on poultry from 172 US-based plants that began as a response to a 2015 outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) resulting in the culling of 50 million birds in the United States. The United States was declared HPAI free in 2017.