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Smithfield Foods does not import food from China

April 13, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Smithfield Foods was sold recently to China. The hogs will still be raised in the U.S., but slaughtered and packaged for sale in China before being sent back here. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Smithfield Foods does not import any products from China to the U.S. 

THE FACTS: Social media users began resharing the false claim following the closure of a Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in South Dakota Sunday due to hundreds of employees testing positive for coronavirus. 

The false claim has been circulating online since 2014. Smithfield Foods was sold to Chinese pork giant WH Group in 2013. Jenna Wollin, a spokeswoman for Smithfield Foods, told The Associated Press in an email that the claims circulating online were false. 

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“No Smithfield products come from animals raised, processed, or packaged in China,” she said. “All our U.S. products are made in one of our nearly 50 facilities across America. These products are produced in compliance with the strict standards and regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other federal and state authorities.”

Posts with the false claim, which were shared hundreds of times, told social media users to “read this before buying meat.” 

The Associated Press reported Sunday that health officials said 293 of the 730 people at the South Dakota Smithfield Foods plant had been diagnosed with COVID-19. 

“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” Smithfield president and CEO Kenneth Sullivan said in a statement. “It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running.These facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain, first and foremost our nation’s livestock farmers.”

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536