Food Safety

Export of Frozen Food to China Now Under Scrutiny


Earlier this month, Chinese officials advised that traces of the Coronavirus were found on chopping boards used for cutting imported frozen salmon at the Xinfadi market in Beijing.  With 137 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Beijing, salmon was immediately removed from the supermarkets in major Chinese cities despite the fact that the National Health Commission said: “there is no evidence showing fish is either the origin or intermediate host for the virus.”

AFFIs Response:

In response, AFFI released this statement regarding the science and spread of the Coronavirus.  Please click this link to read AFFI’s statement which is extremely helpful and explains clearly the science regarding the spread of the virus.

Unfortunately, this was not enough for the Chinese who have recently sent letters to companies throughout the world that export food to China seeking a commitment from them to halt exports from any facility where a worker tested positive. (Note that the Chinese government recently banned poultry imports from a plant owned by Tyson Foods, Inc where hundreds of employees tested positive for COVID-19.)  You can read about it here.

What Happens Next:

AFFI advises that “the U.S. government is coordinating a response to the Chinese government that is expected to reference: lack of evidence of a connection between food, food packaging and COVID; lack of evidence that food is a pathway for transmission of COVID; a reminder that China recognized the rigor and effectiveness of the U.S. food safety system, and; China’s attempt to block food imports based on a non-existent connection between COVID and food likely violates commitments each country made in its Phase 1 trade agreement this spring.”

AFFI recommends NOT signing the commitment if you received this request.  Instead, AFFI recommends sending a simple statement of facts about your food safety systems and provides the following example.  Naturally, this assumes you have the referenced systems in place.

COMPANY NAME complies with U.S. food safety and employee protection laws and rules.

COMPANY NAME has implemented and actively enforces protocols aligned with the guidance document published by the UN FAO and WHO, COVID-19 and food safety:  guidance for food businesses.  COMPANY NAME also conforms to current Chinese food safety laws, regulations and standards. Further, COMPANY NAME has protocols in place to prevent, detect and isolate any spread of COVID-19 in our processing operations, and follow sanitary transport rules to prevent contamination of exports.

Expect delays with new customs inspections in China

We’ll keep you updated on this.  Just be aware that the Chinese authorities will now inspect all containers of imported frozen food, including fruits and vegetables, meats, fish etc. until further notice.  This will cause delays and add expense and inconvenience for your Chinese customers.

Lily Noon

UPDATE :  Please see the attached response from the  U.S. government sources on this matter –


  1. Facts on Frozen Food and the Spread of Coronavirus, AFFI
  2. China Suspends Tyson Foods Poultry Imports From Arkansas Facility Following Outbreak, Forbes
  3. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Joint Statement from USDA and FDA on Food Export Restrictions Pertaining to COVID-19









企業名]は、国連食料農業機関(UN FAO)および世界保健機関(WHO)が発行したガイダンス文書『COVID-19 and Food Safety: Guidance for Food Businesses』に従った手順を導入し、それらの手順を徹底するための活動を積極的に実践しています。また、食品安全性に関する中国の現行の法令や基準にも準拠しています。さらに、新型コロナウイルス感染症の拡大を予防、検出、隔離するための手順を処理加工業務に導入し、衛生的な輸送の規則も順守することで、輸出品の汚染を防止しています。




  1. Facts on Frozen Food and the Spread of Coronavirus(冷凍食品と新型コロナウイルスの拡散に関する事実)、AFFI
  2. China Suspends Tyson Foods Poultry Imports From Arkansas Facility Following Outbreak(中国政府、感染症発生を受けてタイソン・フーズのアーカンソー工場からの鶏肉輸入を停止)、Forbes

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