China's ban on some Alberta beef won't change production, facility says
Cargill Protein's High River plant is on the list of companies that cannot export beef to China announced last week. (File)
CALGARY -- Representatives of Alberta-based Cargill Protein say they are still "determining" how to proceed after China announced a partial ban on beef products from a number of nations around the world, including Canada.
The country announced last week it was expanding its order prohibiting meat imports from certain markets under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the countries affected are Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada. Chinese authorities initiated the ban on products from Cargill Protein's High River facility on June 28.
A spokesperson for Cargill told CTV News in an email they are still working out what the ban would mean for their business.
It did say China's ban would not have any effect on the plant's production capacity, which remains at about 95 per cent since it temporarily shut down as a precaution because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"For now, all that’s changed is where we send product originally meant for export to China, which is a small percentage of our output at the facility," said Cargill's Daniel Sullivan.
"We care about local producers, trade and are working closely with Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to determine next steps. We recognize it is important for farmers and ranchers to have access to markets and are working to process cattle and honor our commitments to producers. I also want to be clear that we also stand strongly by our commitment to producing high-quality, safe beef out of our High River facility."
The High River processing facility was shut down in late April after hundreds of cases of COVID-19 were found among workers.
Two workers, Bui Thi Hiep and Benito Quesada, died from complications of their illnesses.
Last week, Cargill said it was back at full capacity, but it would take some time before a backlog of cattle is cleared. The plant processes 4,500 cattle per day or approximately 35 per cent of Canada's total production.
The move to ban beef products is the latest questionable policy to come from China. A few weeks ago, its companies asked food suppliers around the world to sign a document attesting to the fact their cargoes meet safety standards and aren't infected with COVID-19.
Exporting nations and regulatory agencies have pushed back, declaring there’s no evidence linking infections to food.
(With files from BNN Bloomberg)