Chinese meat producer People's Food Holdings has said it is temporarily closing several plants in China due to the outbreak of the deadly Sars virus.

The company’s shares fell around 20% on the news that People’s Food was temporarily suspending pig slaughtering operations in the Xiangtan, Meishan and Tongliao plants and postponing the opening of its Henan plant to the second half of the year from May because of the outbreak currently affecting China.

"As the purchase and transport of live pigs to the group's production plants involve considerable flows of people and vehicles, the directors are concerned that such processes pose considerable risks to the staff at the group's production plants in spite of stringent cleansing and disinfection measures implemented by the group," the company was quoted by Down Jones International News as saying.