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BRF struggles to meat Chinese demands for coronavirus testing on meat exports

Brazilian food company BRF SA is facing challenges meeting China’s demands that meat exports be tested for potential COVID-19 contamination.

14 August 2020, at 11:30am

Reuters reports that BRF executives say that the company has lost export business in the second quarter amid the pandemic and other market pressures.

BRF told journalists on a conference call that despite the logistical difficulties with testing cargoes, which it said was "extremely complex," it could guarantee its products were safe for consumption as they are produced at "sanitised" factories.

After outbreaks at facilities including a pork plant in the town of Lajeado and a chicken facility in Dourados, China blocked the two BRF factories over coronavirus concerns.

BRF said it has spent millions to control and prevent contamination by the virus, confirming higher expenses related to the health crisis had weighed on its financial performance.

Outbreaks at BRF plants also disrupted production, including at its massive Rio Verde plant, which was closed for testing of its 8,600-workforce in June.

BRF shares were down more than 5 percent in afternoon trading.

BRF's managers noted there were no employees who had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, currently working at its factories.

"No doubt there is contamination at slaughterhouses, and when that happens we suspend the employee," Chief Executive Officer Lorival Luz said.

He declined to say whether any BRF employees had died from COVID-19.

On Wednesday 12 August, BRF said it had to preemptively suspend about 8,200 employees, with pay, after the pandemic struck. It also hired about 6,700 temporary workers to replace those in high-risk groups who had to shelter at home, while also suspending other potentially infected employees after BRF actively tested them.

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