BEIJING: China’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday that the country’s customs officials had frequently discovered “hazardous pests” in samples taken recently from Canadian canola imports.

The comment, made by official spokesman Lu Kang during a regular press briefing, came after Reuters reported that China had cancelled Canadian agribusiness Richardson International Ltd’s registration to ship canola to China, the world’s top importer of the oilseed.

“Recently China customs frequently detected hazardous pests in imports of Canadian canola, and in one company’s imports the problem was particularly serious,” Lu told reporters. He didn’t identify the company.

The situation had led customs to temporarily suspend imports, Lu said.

China relies on Canada to supply more than 90 per cent of its imports of canola, used for cooking and as feed for animals and fish. But Beijing has previously warned of potential curbs on canola imports, citing concerns over fungus in the imports.

In 2016 China tried to impose tougher standards on levels of foreign material in canola imports, which was seen by some as an effort by China to reduce high domestic stocks.

The latest import suspension was completely “reasonable and legal” and aimed at protecting the health and safety of Chinese citizens, said Lu.

Canada’s agriculture minister said on Tuesday that Canada’s food inspection agency had carried out further investigations in response to China’s moves and had not identified any pests or bacteria of concern.

— Reuters