NE China's Harbin reports COVID-19 cases related to CP meatpacking company, products withdrawn
Published: Jan 22, 2021 09:10 AM Updated: Jan 23, 2021 04:28 PM

File photo:VCG

Ten newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and 31 asymptomatic infections detected in Harbin, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province on Thursday are all related to a local meat-processing company co-established by the Thai conglomerate CP Group, and products delivered by the firm on January 1 have been taken off shelves and those that were sold are being recalled.

Local authorities said on Friday night that the city has taken risk control measures for products from the company delivered on January 1, including removal from shelves, temporary storage and nucleic acid testing. 

Authorities said that the products will also be removed from shelves in other cities as well.

The newly confirmed cases were all discovered amid mass-scale coronavirus testing for targeted people, the local authority said, adding that it has already taken emergency measures to seal and control the company, and is conducting a comprehensive nucleic acid testing on its products, environment, and personnel.

In total, 1,650 samples from the company's food factory were collected as of Thursday; positive results were found on samples including those from the corridors of the slaughter workshop, the outdoor environment of the locker room, the cold-storage area outside and the outer packaging of some food products.

Related testing and investigation work is still in progress.

Jiang Qingwu, a Shanghai-based epidemiologist, told the Global Times that under good management, large-scale COVID-19 outbreaks are unlikely to be caused by contaminated packages and products. 

A positive COVID-19 nucleic acid test result cannot prove that the virus detected on a product's packaging is still alive, but it is good practice to treat it as living and infectious, Jiang said, because the virus can be infectious even when it is alive and stored in low temperatures. However, meat products should be safe if they are consumed after being fully cooked.

The Heilongjiang CP food company, located in Harbin Limin Economic and Technological Development Zone, is a joint venture (JV) built by CP Group and state-owned Harbin Limin Economic and Technological Development Zone Industrial Development Corporation. The firm has businesses in the feed industry, poultry storage, meat processing and oil industry. 

Heilongjiang Province has already removed all the company's products from sale temporarily. So far, 43,712 samples of the firm's products have been tested and all returned negative results.

Global Times