Jacinda Ardern confident New Zealand meat COVID-free

Jacinda Ardern says despite reports New Zealand meat may have been found with COVID-19 in China she is confident our products are safe.

Speaking to media on Monday afternoon, the Prime Minister said she was determined "to get to the bottom" of the issue.

Her comments came after Reuters over the weekend reported that coronavirus had been found on frozen beef and tripe and its packaging from New Zealand, Brazil and Bolivia.

Earlier today a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed they were aware of the report and were investigating, something Ardern reiterated this afternoon.

"I want to get to the bottom of this," she said.

"We had been advised that there had been positive tests on the packaging of beef products from Argentina. We were advised that some New Zealand products were in the same coolstore as where those positive tests were returned. We were not advised that New Zealand products themselves had tested positive for COVID-19. That's the reason that we are currently seeking further information from some of the reporting that you will have seen.

"We certainly have not been advised officially of what has been reported by Reuters."

A spokesperson from the Argentinian Embassy in Wellington told Newshub the country's National Service for Agrifood Safety and Quality (SENASA) was investigating the "alleged discovery"  of COVID-19 on its products because "it was not made by Chinese Customs at the point of entry of the merchandise into the country but at a cold store where it had been transferred before its final distribution".

"The alleged event did not affect the product, which is in perfect condition and meeting all the required sanitary standards, but rather the outer packaging at the cold store facilities where it had been transferred. We would like to indicate that this is an isolated case, being the first time that this has happened in the packaging of products from Argentina since the pandemic began," the spokesperson said.

There are fears the reports could have serious ramifications for New Zealand meat exports, but Ardern said she remained confident our products were safe.

"This is incredibly important to New Zealand," Ardern said.

"We are confident of course that our products do not and are not exported with signs of COVID on them given our status as being essentially COVID-free."