The quarantine bureau has rejected a consignment of US pork after tests found traces of a banned drug in meat shipments totalling 103.5 tonnes, but there was no immediate threat of broader retaliatory measures.
The March shipments of frozen pork meat and pig parts were found to contain ractopamine, which is banned in China, but is used in some countries, including the United States, as a feed additive to make meat leaner. In December, the bureau rejected entry of 23.5 tonnes of US pork for the same reason.
If a rash of such cases were found, China could in theory impose more restrictive barriers to US imports, but the amounts involved are tiny compared with overall import volumes and imports also help Beijing moderate domestic food inflation.
China’s pork imports from the US climbed more than three-fold in 2011, but some US meat industry executives say China could reduce imports this year as domestic production rises, reducing local prices and making imports less competitive.
The quarantine bureau identified the US suppliers as Smithfield Packing Company, Alacra Foods and Pine Ridge Farm.
Despite the ban on ractopamine , traces of the additive have also been found in some domestic supplies.
China, which accounts for half of the world’s pork consumption, has since 2008 lifted imports of the staple meat after short supplies pushed prices to a record high. The price rise was driven by frequent outbreaks of pig diseases and rising consumption.
Pork imports in 2011 jumped 132 per cent on year to 467,660 tonnes, of which a majority came from the US. But imports only represent a small part given annual pork production of 50 million tonnes last year.
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Categories: Trade & Investment