United States suspends Brazilian beef imports over safety concerns

Gladys Abbott
June 25, 2017

The number of safety checks and scrutiny on ready-to-eat products and beef imported from Brazil were increased subsequent to an investigation that looked into the corruption that targeted BRF SA and JBS SA meat companies in the country.

Camardelli said about 120 containers with some 3,000 tonnes of Brazilian meat now are at sea headed to the United States.

The Brazilian Beef Exporters Association said in a statement it lamented the export suspension and that "adjustments to the production processes" are already underway and will be presented to the Agriculture Ministry's mission that will go to the United States.

Brazil's agriculture minister plans to travel to the United States to try to reverse the American ban of beef imports from Latin America's biggest country. This year, USA beef and veal production are expected to grow 5 percent to more than 12 million tons, reaching a nine-year high, according to USDA reports.

Canada and the European Union have also rejected some beef and poultry shipments. USDA, since March, has been evaluating 100 percent of all meat products that were coming in the #United States from Brazil.

While fresh beef shipments to the United States represent only 1 percent Brazil's beef exports, the ban there and scrutiny elsewhere threatens to tarnish the country's powerhouse protein industry, which has suffered a series of recent scandals.

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Perdue said that since March, U.S. inspectors have refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products, about 1.9 million pounds.

"We have done our tests; we have carried out surveys extensively and we are satisfied that our surveys carry the level of integrity that would cause us to continue to import corned beef", he said.

The action comes three months after a major scandal erupted in Brazil over allegedly corrupt inspectors at slaughter and processing facilities.

"We worked a long time to open the USA market because it's a passport to other markets", Camardelli said. Brazil's government and meat industry said most problems stemmed from vaccinations and were being addressed. He said USDA approval for Brazil's fresh beef, which was only granted a year ago, was expected to open the door to bigger fresh beef importers such as Japan and South Korea. Today's action to suspend all fresh beef shipments from Brazil supersedes the self-suspension. The country is also a major exporter of chicken and pork products. JBS which is the largest meat packing company globally has declined to comment on the ban.

Brazil is the fifth biggest supplier of beef to the US, ranking behind only Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico.

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