Chinese officials have suspended chicken imports from Fort Smith-based OK Foods. The ban, which started Sept. 13, was imposed after 234 workers in a Fort Smith plant tested positive for COVID-19 in late August.
Arkansas health officials say there are now just five active cases remaining among plant workers.
The USA Poultry & Egg Council said the ban is part of China’s program to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by freezing imports from foreign countries. Council President Jim Sumner said the ban was unjustified as the virus cannot be transmitted to humans through poultry meat.
In late June, product from a Tyson Foods plant in Springdale was also banned by China for similar reasons after the facility reported a high number of positive tests among its workforce, though the majority of the cases were non-symptomatic.
OK Foods, once one of the largest private employers in Arkansas, was acquired in a $93.4 million deal by Bachoco in October 2011. Bachoco was founded in 1952, is a vertically integrated company and its primary products are chicken, eggs, balanced feed, swine, and turkey and beef value-added products.