China has suspended pork and other meat imports from Canada after an investigation revealed that batches of Canadian pork were accompanied by at least 188 counterfeit health certification documents.
The ban is particularly significant at a time when Chinese is looking to buy up pork and other meat from around the world to fill the huge hole in its domestic pork production base caused by African swine fever.
In a statement, the Chinese Embassy in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, said the Chinese Customs authorities had inspected ractopamine residues in a batch of pork products exported from Canada to China.
China immediately suspended the import of pork products from the relevant enterprises and required the Canadian side to carry out investigation.
“The subsequent investigation revealed that the official veterinary health certificates attached to the batch of pork exported to China were counterfeit and the number of those forgery certificates was up to 188. The Canadian side believes that this incident is criminal offence,” the Embassy said.
It said the forged certificates were sent to the Chinese regulatory authorities through Canadian official certificate notification channels, ‘which reflects that the Canadian meat export supervision system exists obvious safety loopholes’.
The statement added: “In order to protect the safety of Chinese consumers, China has taken urgent preventive measures and requested the Canadian government to suspend the issuance of certificates for meat exported to China since June 25.
“We hope the Canadian side would attach great importance to this incident, complete the investigation as soon as possible and take effective measures to ensure the safety of food exported to China in a more responsible manner.”
Canadian Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA) confirmed it had identified ‘inauthentic export certificates’
She said in the CFIA had been working closely with industry and Chinese officials on the matter. “CFIA is investigating this technical issue and has informed appropriate law enforcement agencies. This incident is specific to export certificates to China. Export certificates to other countries are not affected,” she said.
China was the Canada’s second-largest customer of pork in volume terms with more than 283,000 tonnes sent there in in 2018, according to Canada Pork International, quoted in the Financial Post.
But with the US and China engaged in a trade war, making US exports more expensive, Canada has benefited significantly from China’s increased demand for pork this year. Exports to the region were up 42%, totalling 65,000 tonnes in the first quarter of 2019, making China Canada’s leading export destination. Meanwhile, US exports to China have been falling.
The UK pork industry recently received a boost with news that more pork plants have been approved for export to China.