US meat giant Smithfield Foods has seen shipments from one of its plants turned back by the Mexican authorities.

Smithfield said the issue originates with a third-party supplier.

Exports from one of its pork plants in North Carolina were rejected because of concerns about the quality of hog skins.

The halt in shipments from the plant in Tar Heel happened last week, according to the US department of agriculture (USDA).

A spokesperson for its Food Safety and Inspection Service said: “On June 16, 2021, the Smithfield slaughter establishment in Tar Heel, North Carolina was delisted from the list of establishments eligible to export meat products to Mexico. FSIS is in communication with all involved parties and is gathering additional information.”

Smithfield, owned by China’s WH Group, said it too is working with authorities to resume shipments from Tar Heel, which can slaughter about 34,500 hogs a day.

In a statement sent to Just Food, Smithfield’s chief administrative office Keira Lombardo said: “The temporary de-listment is a result of product quality concerns with a specific lot of back skins sold from the facility to a third-party, US-based company that, after a period of time passed following the sale, then exported the back skins product to Mexico.

“We have conducted a thorough internal inquiry, and have determined that the issue originates with the third-party company, not with Smithfield nor the facility. We are working closely with appropriate authorities to resolve the matter.”