China to suspend pork imports from third Canadian firm as dispute with Ottawa deepens

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will block pork imports from a third Canadian firm after a shipment was found to contain the banned feed additive ractopamine, the customs agency said on Tuesday, deepening a trade and diplomatic dispute with Canada.

The firm in question is Frigo Royal Inc, the agency said on its Wechat account. Ractopamine is used in some countries to make leaner pigs but China does not allow its use and does not tolerate residues of the compound in imported meat.

China will also strengthen inspections for the residue in all pork imports from Canada, the notice from the General Administration of Customs said. Frigo Royal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China halted pork imports from two other Canadian producers, Olymel LP and Drummond Export, in April because of labeling problems. It has also blocked imports of canola seed.

Relations between China and Canada nosedived last December after Vancouver police detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co, on a U.S. arrest warrant. Beijing is demanding her return.

Canadian government officials said this month they had been warned by China that it would step up inspections of meat imports after “recent cases of non-compliance” in pork shipments.

Katie Hawkins, a spokeswoman for Canadian Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, said federal food inspectors were probing the latest case.

“Canadian farmers make the highest quality products, backed by a robust and world-class inspection system. We stand by our system and our strong reputation as reliable suppliers of quality products worldwide,” she said by email.

The Chinese customs notice said authorities in the port of Nanjing had detected ractopamine residue in a batch of Frigo Royal pork on June 3.

China had previously warned Canada that it would open all containers of Canadian meat and meat products and, in some cases, 100% of the contents would be inspected.

Many Canadian farmers started raising pigs without ractopamine in 2013 to boost their exports to China.

In the first three months of this year, China was Canada’s third-biggest pork export market, taking in C$215 million ($160.5 million) of Canada’s pork and pork products.

Additional reporting by Dominique Patton in Beijing, David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Susan Thomas

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