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Jun 26, 2020
USDA, Western Growers respond to undertaking required by Chinese customs

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., issued the following statement on June 24 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.” 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in conjunction with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has issued guidance for manufacturing facilities, including food facilities, specific to controlling the spread of COVID-19 between workers. But the COVID-19 guidelines from CDC and OSHA are separate and distinct from the food safety requirements that all U.S. food facilities must follow to ensure food safety.  

Western Growers weighs in

In response to reports that Chinese Customs is requiring a Letter of Undertaking of Safety of Import Food for food shipments, Western Growers 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.”

Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. Our members and their workers provide half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including half of America’s fresh organic produce.


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