China suspends imports from major US meat processors after saying it found contamination

China has suspended imports of chicken feet, pig

ears and other animal products from seven U.S. companies, including

the world's largest meat processor, in an apparent attempt to turn

the tables on American complaints about tainted products from


The American meat had contaminants including salmonella, feed

additives and veterinary drugs, according to a list posted on the

Web site of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision,

Inspection and Quarantine late Friday.

The U.S. and other countries have cracked down on Chinese

products since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found in April

that North American dogs and cats were poisoned by tainted Chinese

pet food ingredients. Since then, a growing number of Chinese

products have been found to be tainted with potentially toxic

chemicals and other adulterants.

In recent weeks, Chinese authorities have been prominently

announcing their own rejections of imports, including U.S. orange

pulp, dried apricots, raisins and health supplements - apparently

to show that they are not the only ones with food safety problems.

The Chinese agency said frozen poultry from Springdale,

Ark.-based Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat processor,

was contaminated with salmonella.

Frozen chicken feet from Laurel, Miss.-based Sanderson Farms

Inc. were tainted with residue of an anti-parasite drug, and frozen

pork ribs from Wichita, Kan.-based Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.

contained the leanness-enhancing feed additive ractopamine, the

agency said.

Frozen pig ears from Kansas City, Mo.-based Van Luin Foods USA,

Inc. were found to contain ractopamine. Frozen chicken feet from

Atlanta-based Intervision Foods was tainted with salmonella, and

frozen pork from Atlanta's AJC International, Inc. was tainted with

ractopamine, the agency said.

Both stewed chicken feet and pig ears are popular dishes in


Sausage casing from a seventh company, listed by the Chinese

agency as "Thumph Foods," was also found to contain ractopamine,

according to the Chinese agency. It was not clear whether it was

referring to Triumph Foods of St. Joseph, Mo.

Mark Klein, a spokesman for Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc.,

disputed the Chinese inspectors' findings that his company's

products were tainted and said Cargill hoped to resolve the issue

by working with U.S. and Chinese officials.

"We're proud of our products and our processes, and we'll be

delighted to talk about them with all concerned," he said.

Cargill is the parent company of Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.,

which as of 2005 was the ninth leading pork producer in the U.S.,

according to the National Pork Producers Council.

Libby Lawson, a spokeswoman for Tyson Foods, said the company

knew nothing about any tainted product.

"We're disappointed with this news from China and are

investigating these claims as this is the first we've heard of this

development," she said. "We have received no notice from the

Chinese government about this matter. We will work with the U.S.

and Chinese government to get this matter resolved."

Officials with the other companies could not immediately be

reached for comment.

Although China supplies most of its own meat, its imports of

foreign meat are growing. A contagious disease has killed tens of

thousands of pigs in China this year, and many farmers have stopped

raising pigs because of worries they would lose money if the

animals die. As a result, prices of pork - the country's staple

meat - have shot up 43 percent, a jump so serious that China's

Cabinet held an emergency session and Premier Wen Jiabao made

public appearances to address concerns.

Cargill, Van Luin and "Thumph Foods" were given 45 days to

correct the contamination problems, while the others were suspended

from imports, though China did not say for how long.

It was also unclear whether the bans covered only the products

in question, or all of the companies' imports.

A duty officer reached by phone at the Chinese agency Saturday

said he did not know details.

Beijing has taken steps in recent days to improve the image of

its products. It executed the former head of its drug regulation

agency for taking bribes, and banned toothpaste makers from using a

chemical found in antifreeze.

Officials also have vowed to better integrate China's fractured

regulatory system, which splits responsibility among at least six

agencies. Blurred lines between them often enable the country's

countless illegal operations to escape detection.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted Li Yuanping, director of

the Chinese agency's import and export bureau, as saying China's

government has thoroughly investigated each case of substandard


"All of them are exceptional cases," he said in the Saturday

report, adding that more than 99 percent of China's exports meets

standards. "China-made products should not be labeled as

substandard just because of a few bad producers."