June 5, 2019 / 6:41 PM / 2 months ago

Canada says increased Chinese meat inspections are for pork only, not all meat

FILE PHOTO: Canadian pork shoulders are prepped on a butcher's counter in Toronto, Ontario, Canada May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Chinese plans to boost inspections of Canadian meat imports only affect pork rather than all meat products as the federal agriculture ministry initially stated, a Canadian government official said on Wednesday.

A ministry notice seen by Reuters on Tuesday said the Canadian embassy in Beijing had been told Chinese customs agents would open all containers of Canadian meat and meat products, and that in some cases 100% of the contents would be inspected.

But the official, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation, said the increased inspections only targeted pork.

“These measures include a thorough document review for all pork product shipments, that all containers will be opened for inspection, and in some instances all cartons will be inspected,” the official said by email.

The official did not immediately respond when asked why the agriculture ministry had initially mentioned all meat products.

China has already blocked imports of Canadian canola seed and temporarily suspended permits from two Canadian pork plants. Beijing is demanding Ottawa return a Chinese tech executive who is facing extradition to the United States.

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau later told reporters “the information we got is really directed to pork, but we feel through the information we get from the different industries that the level of inspection has been increased on our Canadian products more generally.”

She did not give details and her office did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it was not aware of any new inspection procedures by China for U.S. meat and had not been notified of any new procedures.

Reporting by David Ljunggren and Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa and Tom Polansek in Chicago; editing by Diane Craft

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