China has temporarily banned beef exports from a number of Australian meatworks, the ABC understands.
The Australian Meat Industry Council has confirmed it is working with the federal Department of Agriculture through diplomatic channels on the issue.
There are shipments currently on the water, although the ABC understands the Australian Government is hopeful it can resolve the issue before those ships arrive in China.
The Government is prepared to confirm there are five businesses with six establishments affected.
Sources have told the ABC those meatworks are in Queensland and NSW.
The Government was formally notified by the Chinese Government yesterday and has been liaising with industry last night and today.
The ABC understands the ban is because of non-compliance issues around labelling of meat from those plants, and is not because of health or food safety concerns.
Industry believes it has addressed those non-compliance issues and is hopeful the issue will be resolved quickly.
Australia’s beef exports to China were worth more than $600 million last year, and China is the fourth-largest market.
More beef and lamb processors were given approval in March to export chilled meat to China in a deal struck at the highest level, between the Chinese Premier and the Australian Prime Minister.
But Australian exporters are also now confronted with a new competitor in the market as China opens up to US beef imports for the first time in 13 years.
By Sarina Locke