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WGA, USDA, FDA push back against Chinese Customs COVID rule

IRVINE, Calif., (June 26, 2020) — In response to reports that Chinese Customs is requiring a Letter of Undertaking of Safety of Import Food for food shipments, Western Growers BB #:144734 President & CEO Dave Puglia issued the following statement:

“The recent move by Chinese authorities to require a statement of undertaking for food importers is not based on any legitimate food safety concern.

“Our food system is the safest in the world, and the known science behind the transmission of COVID-19 is inconsistent with the Chinese government’s call for more restrictive food safety-related trade measures. Indeed, the very food safety guidance referenced in the required statement – issued by the United Nations and World Health Organization – affirms that there is ‘no evidence to date’ of COVID-19 being transmitted through food or food packaging. This point is important for our domestic consumers to remember, as well.

“The viability of many U.S. farms and the rural economy depends on healthy, robust international trade with key partners like China. At a time when American farmers are still trying to dig themselves out of a coronavirus-induced financial hole, it will be difficult for the industry to absorb further losses due to unfounded demands like this.

“We are aware that the Trump Administration has objected to China’s actions and request that the administration continue to pressure the Chinese government until it reverses this ill-timed and scientifically indefensible trade barrier.”

USDA and FDA issued a joint statement June 24, 2020, saying other countries’ import restrictions related to the virus are not based in science.

Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., issued the following statement regarding food export restrictions pertaining to COVID-19:

“The United States understands the concerns of consumers here domestically and around the world who want to know that producers, processors and regulators are taking every necessary precaution to prioritize food safety especially during these challenging times. However, efforts by some countries to restrict global food exports related to COVID-19 transmission are not consistent with the known science of transmission.”

“There is no evidence that people can contract COVID-19 from food or from food packaging. The U.S. food safety system, overseen by our agencies, is the global leader in ensuring the safety of our food products, including product for export.”