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UPDATE 2-Brazil's BRF says China blocked Dourados chicken exports

(Adds ministry’s comment and)

SAO PAULO, July 29 (Reuters) - Brazilian meat processor BRF SA said on Wednesday that Chinese customs authority GACC had suspended chicken exports from its Dourados plant, in the Center-Western state of Mato Grosso do Sul, over COVID-19 concerns.

Dourados is the second BRF plant suspended by China after the pandemic began to ravage Brazilian meat plants. The other is a pork facility in Lajeado, in Brazil’s southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul.

BRF, Brazil’s biggest chicken exporter, said in a statement it was not formally notified of the suspension, but learned of it via a publication on the GACC’s website.

The company said it was working with Brazilian and Chinese authorities to reverse the measure.

The Brazilian agriculture ministry confirmed the suspension, but did not mention the name of the company or the location of the plant affected by the move.

BRF and meatpackers including Marfrig and JBS SA , which say the novel coronavirus cannot be transmitted by food, are among companies that had exports from local plants banned by the Chinese after outbreaks in Brazil.

A total of six plants are currently banned by China, the agriculture ministry said.

BRF said Chinese agencies have carried out random tests to identify the virus in 227,900 food samples from different countries and from multiple companies.

“Nothing has been found so far,” BRF said.

BRF also noted that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has adopted health and safety protocols and contingency plans in all its manufacturing units in Brazil and abroad. (Reporting by Ana Mano Editing by Brad Haynes, Alistair Bell and David Gregorio)

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