On August 18, in what appears to be a response to reported detection of novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) on imported frozen chicken from Brazil inspected in the southern China city of Shenzhen, local authorities imposed new handling and testing requirements for imports of frozen meat and seafood.
“There is concern that these new measures could not just contribute to product backlogs at Shenzhen ports, but also cause consumers to shy away from imported meat and seafood,” warned Michael Francom in a USDA Agriculture Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report issued on August 24.
Under newly imposed requirements, which were issued by Shenzhen’s Covid-19 Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarters Office, imports of frozen meat and seafood that will be exclusively sold, processed or stored in Shenzhen will – after clearing customs – move to the Shenzhen Imported Frozen Foods Centralized Supervision Warehouse where the shipment will be disinfected and tested for the virus that caused the potentially deadly Covid-19 respiratory disease.
The local government will pay for disinfection, testing and storage for a certain period. After disinfection and testing negative, the shipment will be issued an exit certificate and allowed to enter local commerce. It should be noted that containers of imported meat and seafood products that are moving to other locations outside of Shenzhen are not subject to this requirement.
“With only one centralized cold storage facility designated for inspections, importers are concerned about capacity to efficiently test and sanitize incoming containers. Additional cold storage facilities are reportedly needed to get around this critical capacity issue. Otherwise, there is concern about container backlogs developing at Shenzhen ports,” wrote Francom.
The new Covid-19 measures, which are inconsistent with WHO/FAO Covid-19 guidance, were announced after the Shenzhen government reportedly identified novel coronavirus on a sample taken from a shipment of Brazilian chicken wings.
“It is believed that the handful of recent Covid-19 human infection cases in Shenzhen, which are wholly unrelated to the Brazilian chicken incident, has likely contributed to this overly restrictive response,” pointed out Francom.