The US government is to extend its review of the planned takeover of Smithfield Foods by China’s biggest pork producer, Shuanghui International.

Smithfield said yesterday (24 July) the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), the agency charged with reviewing the national security implications of foreign acquisitions, notified the two firms it will take an additional 45 days to review the transaction.

The US meat group, however, said both remain committed to working co-operatively with CFIUS throughout the process.

“The CFIUS process is confidential and Smithfield and Shuanghui International do not intend to comment further on that process while it is ongoing,” it said in a statement. “Smithfield and Shuanghui International continue to expect the transaction to close in the second half of 2013.”

The deal, announced in May for US$7.1bn, has resulted in concern from lawmakers, food safety groups and consumers over what the sale of the world’s largest pork processor to a Chinese company might mean for food safety.

Earlier this month, CEO Larry Pope moved to try and reassure US lawmakers the sale would not affect US exports and food security. He told the Senate Agriculture Committee that he expects the transaction to drive growth and expansion not only for US growers, but for the entire US pork industry.