USDA to inspect Brazilian meat plants in June
The US Department of Agriculture will send an audit mission to Brazil to verify if meat plants and products still fulfil the health requirements. The announcement was made by the end of last month and follows discussions about opening the US market for Brazilian beef and pork.
The audit is programmed for next June 10th to 28th, according to the Ministry of Agriculture of Brazil.
Beef imports from Brazil have been halted since 2017 due to food-safety concerns. Since 2001, almost 20 audit missions have failed for a variety of reasons. These reasons include high levels of Ivermectin and chemicals in the meat, failure in testing for microbial, and general lack of sanitation among others. In some audits, it was found that Brazil wasn't properly removing material that can carry mad cow disease (BSE).
The news that the US is ready to resume Brazilian fresh beef imports stirs concern in the industry. "In 2017, it was revealed that Brazilian meat inspectors had been caught accepting bribes to allow expired meats to be sold and sanitary permits to be falsified", mentioned Brooke Miller, Vice President of the United States Cattlemen's Association, in a press release. The recent trade negotiation process open by president Trump with its Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro for opening the American market to Brazilian beef exporters has attracted criticism from the United States Cattlemen’s Association. The group fears that such a move would compromise the "health of the domestic cattle herd for the sake of increased beef exports, especially from a country marred by scandal". One of the biggest fears is that an outbreak of foot and mouth disease can be triggered by Brazilian meat imports. Last year, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) declared Brazil free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) with vaccination. The South American country initiated a program which aims to have the full country free of FMD without vaccination by 2023. Until now, only one state in Brazil, Santa Catarina, has this status.
The US has not been confronted with FMD since 1929. More than that, the vaccine stocks for FMD are limited, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
"The United States is vulnerable to FMD transmission, given the large size and mobility of the U.S. livestock sector. An FMD outbreak in the United States could have serious economic impacts, in part because trade partners would likely halt all imports of U.S. livestock and livestock products until the disease is eradicated", says the GAO report.
"We're not thrilled with the prospect of Brazil potentially sending beef to the United States, but we are grateful to see USDA's commitment to science-based trade by using an FSIS audit to review Brazil's food safety system. We expect this will be a much more rigorous and well-documented process than the approval process conducted by the previous Administration", declared Kent Bacus, Senior Director of International Trade for the National Cattleman's Beef Association, for Tri-State Livestock News.
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