China bans all imports of meat from Canadian producers

Posted Jun 26, 2019 by Karen Graham
An escalating diplomatic dispute between China and Canada has now resulted in China banning all meat exports from Canada - a situation that is expected to have a significant business impact for Canadian farmers.
The M&M Meat Shops chain has more than 430 locations across Canada
The M&M Meat Shops chain has more than 430 locations across Canada
GE Lighting
China's sudden ban on Canadian beef and pork imports comes on the eve of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's trip to the G20 Summit. The two countries' relationship began to deteriorate after December 2018, when Meng Wanzhou, an executive with the Chinese technology firm Huawei was arrested in Vancouver at the request of the U.S.
She is now awaiting extradition to the U.S. - But in the meantime, China has arrested two Canadians on charges of spying, and sentenced another, Robert Schellenberg, who had been serving a 15-year prison sentence, to death for drug smuggling. Additionally, China has banned canola exports from Canada.
According to CNN News, the Chinese Embassy in Canada said in a statement on Wednesday that the decision to ban all meat had been sparked by the discovery of "ractopamine residues" in a batch of pork sent by Canadian company Frigo Royal on June 3. A subsequent investigation by Canadian authorities found 188 forged veterinary certificates on exported meat products.
“These forged certificates were sent to the Chinese regulatory authorities through Canadian official certificate notification channel, which reflects that the Canadian meat export supervision system exists obvious safety loopholes,” the embassy said.
“In order to protect the safety of Chinese consumers, China has taken urgent preventive measures and requested the Canadian government to suspend the issuance of certificates for meat exported to China since June 25.”
The Financial Post is reporting that in a statement, the Canadian Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food has confirmed that “inauthentic certificates” had been identified, and referred to it as a “technical issue." The information had been forwarded to law enforcement.
Meat counter at the pork butcher shop in a Beijing wet market.
Meat counter at the pork butcher shop in a Beijing wet market.
“Our government will always stand shoulder to shoulder with our producers and workers, who export the finest products around the world,” said the statement attributed to Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.
The ractopamine controversy
If you care about the drugs that make it into the United States' food supply — or only about what happens to the animals that supply us with meat — you should care about ractopamine.
Ractopamine is a feed additive that helps increase the animals' ability to efficiently turn what they eat into lean muscle rather than fat. This leads to reduced feed demand, less waste, and higher quality and more affordable meat for consumers, at least according to the American Institute in Taiwan, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan.
However, as of 2015, ractopamine use as a feed additive is authorized in the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, and Mexico. The food additive is banned in over 160 countries around the world, including the European Union, China, and Russia.
Specifically talking about Canada - ractopamine is only allowed in meal or pellet feed for finishing barrows and gilts, confined finishing cattle, and finishing heavy turkeys.
About 388 percent more beef and veal were exported to China as of April 2019 compared with the same timeframe last year, and nearly 53 percent more pork, according to Statistics Canada, reports CTV News Canada.
This comes to about $63.6 million in beef and veal, and about $310.2 million in pork exports, according to the agency. "China is a very important market for Canadian producers," said the Canadian Pork Council in a statement. It is a federation of nine provincial pork industry associations that represent 7,000 farms.