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After COVID-19 outbreak, BRF plant in southern Brazil cleared to resume exports to China

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FILE PHOTO: A logo of Brazilian meatpacker BRF SA is seen in the headquarters in Curitiba
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By Ana Mano

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil-based food processor BRF SA said on Monday its Lajeado pork unit has been authorized to resume exports to China, according to a statement sent to Reuters, as the Asian nation continues to rely on meat imports.

The plant, which faced an outbreak of the novel coronavirus among workers in May, employs about 3,000 people. The unit should resume exports over the coming days, the statement said.

"After an inspection by the Chinese authorities, it was possible to prove the commitment that all of us at BRF have always had regarding the health and safety of our employees and our products," BRF said.

Major food-producing countries have grown increasingly frustrated with China's scrutiny of imported products. They have called on Beijing to stop aggressive testing for the coronavirus, which some say is tantamount to a trade restriction. [L4N2I20VK]

At least three other Brazilian meat factories remain blocked by China over coronavirus concerns, according to the Agriculture Ministry's website,. All are located in Brazil's southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Two of the plants belong to JBS SA and are based in the towns of Passo Fundo, where it processes poultry, and Três Passos, where it processes pork. The other is a poultry unit operated by privately owned Companhia Minuano de Alimentos in the same location as BRF's Lajeado plant.

The agriculture ministry did not have an immediate comment on the status of the plants that remain blocked.

The Lajeado unit had been suspended by China since July, the company's statement said. Currently, BRF has 14 plants authorized to export to China, including 10 poultry and four pork processing units.

Earlier this year, BRF's Dourados facility was also suspended by China and then allowed to resume chicken exports, all in the space of a few weeks.

(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Dan Grebler)