(Adds Aurora quote, ABPA statement, context)
By Ana Mano
SAO PAULO, Aug 25 (Reuters) – Food producer Central Cooperativa Aurora has voluntarily suspended poultry exports to China from a plant, it said on Tuesday, the latest sign of how coronavirus outbreaks are weighing on Brazilian meat processors.
Brazil’s third largest pork and poultry processor said the decision came after the Chinese city of Shenzhen detected the virus’ genetic material on product packages allegedly from Aurora’s Xaxim plant.
The suspension by the plant in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina had been in effect since Aug. 20, according to data on China’s customs authority’s website, which identified the facility by its SIF registration number 601. The plant had been blocked by Hong Kong earlier this month over coronavirus concerns and remains suspended, according to an Aurora spokesman.
The Hong Kong ban took place on the same day Aurora agreed to test 11,000 workers for coronavirus starting on Aug. 21 at four of its meat facilities.
“Despite the absolute confidence and the certainty that its production process is free from the presence of the virus, Aurora Alimentos, in order to reassure Chinese authorities, chose to temporarily suspend shipments to China from the Xaxim poultry processing plant,” Aurora said.
The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture did not immediately provide a comment.
Meat lobby ABPA said it supported Aurora’s move while Shenzhen authorities clarify claims about the discovery of alleged traces of the novel coronavirus on products originating from that plant.
As the coronavirus ravaged Brazilian meat facilities, China has halted meat imports from Brazilian food processors including Marfrig, JBS SA and BRF SA over contamination concerns in the past few weeks. (Reporting by Ana Mano and Jake Spring; Editing by Richard Chang)