China requires disinfection of imported cold chain food

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China is now requiring imported cold chain food to be thoroughly disinfected before going to market, after live coronavirus was detected on the outer packaging of imported cold chain food in three cities in two days, leading to growing public concerns. 

Imported cold chain food will be thoroughly disinfected to achieve closed-loop control and traceability for the whole process, in order to minimize the risk of bringing in COVID-19 through imported cold-chain food, China's State Council announced on Monday. 

Related products that are also required to be fully sterilized include the loading and transporting carriers, and the inner and outer packaging of the cold chain food.

The sterilization and regulation of cold chain food will involve multiple departments, including customs, transportation, health and sanitation, market supervision, local governments and relevant companies.

Importing enterprises must truthfully declare the relevant information on imported cold-chain food, and customs departments will strengthen the testing of imported cold-chain food in accordance with the risk monitoring plan. 

If an imported food product tests positive for COVID-19, it will be returned or destroyed in accordance with the regulations. 

If it tests negative, the customs department will organize and supervise the inspection site operator or the importing enterprise to disinfect the inner side of the container and the outer packaging of the imported cold chain food. 

After the disinfection is completed, the disinfection unit will issue a document certifying that the goods have been disinfected. Imported cold chain food cannot be sold on the market without this certificate. 

China has detected novel coronavirus on the packaging of frozen food and seen a number of related cases of industry workers who did not have effective protection in the past few weeks. Similar cases have been reported in East China's Qingdao, Dezhou and Yantai, South China's Shenzhen, North China's Taiyuan and Tianjin, and Northeast China's Dalian.

On Sunday, Tianjin Municipality entered "war time mode" after a worker in a local frozen food company who had contact with the outer packaging of imported frozen food was found to be infected with coronavirus.

In September, China suspended imports from 56 cold-chain food companies in 19 countries and regions where workers had been infected with COVID-19.

China aims to ensure food safety, improve port efficiency, and avoid backlog of goods to ensure the stability of the industrial chain, according to the State Council guidance. 

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