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China halts pork imports from the Netherlands after coronavirus outbreaks

China has suspended almost all pork imports from the Netherlands, citing COVID-19 outbreaks in Dutch abattoirs as the cause.

2 July 2020, at 11:13am

Reuters reports that China has banned meat from four of the largest Dutch slaughterhouses as of 28 June. The announcement came from Elise van den Bosch, a spokeswoman for the Dutch government.

China did not offer a specific reason for the ban, but van den Bosh reports that workers at all four abattoirs have recently been infected with the novel coronavirus.

"Clearly, China is looking for the source of its second wave of COVID-19 infections, which they might feel could come from imported meat", Van den Bosch said.

"But there is no scientific evidence for the possible transmission of the virus through food or packaging materials."

Slaughterhouses in the Netherlands, and elsewhere in Europe, are mainly operated by migrant workers, who work close to each other and often share cramped housing facilities. This has led to large coronavirus outbreaks at many of them in recent months.

The four companies affected by the ban normally deliver the bulk of the pork shipped from the Netherlands to China.

Dutch pork exports to China ran to a total of 299,000 tonnes last year, with a total value of €335 million ($376 million).

Van den Bosch said the Dutch government would be willing to cooperate on Chinese demands for further inspections of the slaughterhouses.

"In other European countries this has been done by installing video cameras", she said. "We would be willing to cooperate with such a request."

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