Australian and Chilean cherry exports have again under the microscope in China following reports that packaging contained COVID-19 positive samples.
Chinese state-owned media on Friday revealed that the cherries were sold to customers across three districts of Wuxi, in the Jiangsu province, near Shanghai.
The concerning find comes after the Global Times slammed Australia’s world-renowned cherries as “inferior” in taste and quality.
“It is not yet clear what the source country is, but all unsold cherries from the same batch have been collected and are ready for destruction,” the Global Times wrote.
“A total of 199 samples from the related environment, objects and personnel have been tested, all returning negative results, according to a statement released by the COVID-19 prevention team in Liangxi, Wuxi.”
Chilean cherries, followed closely by Australian, make up the bulk of China’s cherry imports.
Australia prides itself on its cherries being on the tree to market in 72 hours.
The cherries in question were reportedly produced on December 18, 2020.
One Beijing resident told the Global Times that the positive results from the cherries would put her off buying the imported fruit for the rest of the season.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack last week spoke out in defence of Australian cherries saying they were the “red, juicy and plump”.
“Wherever we produce cherries they’re great,” Mr McCormack said.
His comments followed reports that the taste and quality of Australian cherries had dropped, prompting Chinese buyers to turn to the Chilean fruit.
Australian cherry growers also hit back at China’s claims their fruit is inferior to others saying they were positioned as the “premium cherry product in the world”.