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China blocks imports from Australian beef producer

BEIJING (AP) — China blocked imports from an Australian beef producer on Friday after reporting a banned drug was found in its meat, and Australian officials said they were working to resolve the problem.

Imports of beef from John Dee Warwick Pty. Ltd. that contained the banned chemical, chloramphenicol, were destroyed, the General Administration of Customs of China announced. China earlier blocked imports of beef from Australia's largest producers in what political analysts suggested was a dispute over trade rules. But Australian agriculture minister said the latest move was a legitimate one.

Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud released a statement saying his department had been notified about the suspension due to the detection of a substance known as chloramphenicol. “I have spoken to the establishment and they believe they have traced the source of this substance," Littleproud said. “My department is working with the establishment to give Chinese authorities assurance around this incident and to have the establishment relisted after appropriate investigation."

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. cited Littleproud as saying in an interview that there was nothing malicious about the ban. “It’s quite legitimate what China has raised and the owners have acted very swiftly to trace where that element has come from,” he said.

Littleproud said the element could naturally occur in some feed and that Agriculture Department was working with officials in Beijing to rectify the situation as soon as possible.

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