China's NHC issues coronavirus control guidelines on meat processing firms

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s National Health Commission on Thursday issued coronavirus control guidelines for meat processing companies, including demanding imported livestock and poultry products must be virus-free before processing in Chinese plants.

The guidelines come after a series of coronavirus outbreaks linked to meat processing plants across Europe and the Americas, with China banning imports from various origins.

Imported meats products must have certificates for passing nucleic acid tests for the coronavirus, on top of other documents, certificates and records of inspections, before being processed in the Chinese plants, the NHC said in a statement.

Meat processing enterprises should keep track of the source of poultry and meat, the NHC said, and establish a complete traceability mechanism.

“Working places including meat slaughtering, cutting, storing and packing (plants) are mostly closed and densely populated environments with a low temperature, where the risk of virus-spreading is quite high,” the health authority said in another statement on its website.

NHC asked the processors to carry out regular and thorough cleaning and sterilization of all working units, including farming, slaughtering, and packing plants, and cold storage.

Animals to be slaughtered should come from non-epidemic areas, the statement said, without identifying the regions.

Meat processors in medium- and high-risk areas must collect five environment samples respectively in slaughtering, cutting, and packing plants, for nucleic acid tests, while those in low-risk areas must do such sample testing at least once every week, according to the statement.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Tom Daly; Writing by Shivani Singh; Editing by Alex Richardson and Christian Schmollinger