Imports of Fresh Beef from Brazil Halted Over Safety Concerns
The Department of Agriculture announced June 22 the suspension of all imports of fresh beef from Brazil because of recurring concerns about the safety of products intended for the U.S. market. The USDA states that this suspension will remain in place until the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture takes corrective action that the department finds satisfactory.
A USDA press release states that since March the Food Safety and Inspection Service has been inspecting 100 percent of all meat products arriving from Brazil and has refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products, substantially higher than the one percent rejection rate for shipments from the rest of the world. The Brazilian government had pledged to address the public health concerns, sanitary conditions, and animal health issues cited as the reason for the FSIS refusals, including by self-suspending five facilities from shipping beef to the U.S.
The U.S. and Brazil only recently resumed bilateral trade in fresh beef for the first time in more than a decade after resolving concerns about bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease). As part of that process FSIS determined that Brazil’s food safety system governing meat products remained equivalent to that of the U.S. However, following reports that Brazilian meat producers bribed health inspectors to overlook the sale of spoiled meat, several countries banned imports of Brazilian meat and FSIS began requiring additional testing.