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China Suspends Poultry Imports From Tyson Foods Plant In Arkansas

China is halting the import of poultry from a Tyson Foods plant in Arkansas following an outbreak of coronavirus cases at the facility.

The nation's General Administration of Customs office made the announcement on Sunday, saying shipments from the plant would be temporarily suspended, while products that have already arrived will be seized.

Tyson Foods confirmed to NPR that the announcement pertains to its Berry Street facility in Springdale, Ark., where 227 workers tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month. All but four of them were asymptomatic, according to Tyson.

The company said that tests of its facilities in northwest Arkansas showed that 481 employees, or 13% of 3,748 employees, had tested positive. The company said 455 of those employees (95%) were asymptomatic.

In a statement, Tyson Foods said it was investigating reports of the suspension.

"At Tyson, our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, and we work closely with the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service to ensure that we produce all of our food in full compliance with government safety requirements," the company said.

Health experts have said the coronavirus is mostly spread through respiratory droplets, not food. In recent days, however, China has amped up testing of food products after a spate of coronavirus cases was traced to a major food market in Beijing.

The positive results at the Arkansas facilities aren't the first for the company. In May, the company announced that some 570 workers tested positive at a processing facility in Wilkes County, N.C. In April, the company halted operations at a Columbus Junction, Iowa pork plant after more than two dozen workers tested positive for the coronavirus.

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