SAINT-HYACINTHE – Going from bad to worse in the span of a month. In a surprise move by the Chinese Embassy, Canada has been asked to suspend all meat exports, after blocking pork imports this month from Frigo Royal Inc. due to the use of the “muscle drug”, as well as the former suspension of two other processors earlier this spring.

Chinese custom inspectors say they detected residue from a restricted feed additive called Ractopamine, which is used to accelerate a pig’s natural growth. The drug, banned China but permitted for use in Canada and the United States, is used by pork producers to make leaner pigs, hence leaner pork cuts.

This was especially a big hit since, in the first three months of 2019, China was Canada’s third-biggest pork export market, taking in $215-million of Canada’s pork and pork products. Canadian government officials say that they have been warned China will strengthen inspections for residue in all pork imports after recent cases of non-compliance in shipments.

Now, China is suspending all meat imports due to an investigation that revealed the official veterinary health certificates attached to a batch of pork exported to China were counterfeit. The number of forgery certificates reached 188.

According to the Chinese Embassy, these forged certificates were sent to the Chinese regulatory authorities through Canadian official certificate notification channel. China is now taking urgent preventative measures to protect their customers and has asked the Canadian government to suspend all meat-export certificates.

All of which comes amid China’s suspension of Canadian canola imports earlier this year.

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Marie-Claude Bibeau stated that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has identified the issue involving inauthentic export certificates and the appropriate law enforcement agencies have been informed.

Bibeau has also defended the quality of the Canadian meat industry, stating that the Canadian food system is one of the best in the world and that there is confidence in the safety of Canadian products and Canadian exports.

Ever since an outbreak of African swine fever began tearing through China’s pig stock since last August, with no sign of slowing down any time soon, China’s pork quality has also taken a nose-dive.

Pork prices are continuing to surge to an estimated 70 per cent in China due to falling domestic production brought on by the outbreak, higher tariffs on U.S. pork and the uncertainty if the epidemic will ever end.

The country’s consumer price index was up by 2.5 per cent in April from the previous year and at a six-month high thanks to soaring pork prices. However, prices rose from 11.9 yuan per kilogram to 15.1 yuan per kilogram in late May and China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs predicts that pork may be 70 per cent more expensive in the coming months of 2019.