Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 February 2018

Pressure grows for EU crackdown on Brazilian meat imports

Joe Healy says Brazil is failing to meet food safety standards
Joe Healy says Brazil is failing to meet food safety standards

A visit by EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, to Brazil this week is expected to be crucial on how Europe responds to the unfolding meat scandal.

The Brazilian beef industry was rocked by revelations from a two-year investigation that meatpackers allegedly paid off inspectors to overlook practices, including processing rotten meat, shipping exports with traces of salmonella and not carrying out inspections.

Among the companies implicated in the scandal are the Brazilian beef sector giants BRF and JBS.

Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness said "fraud and corruption in the Brazilian meat industry must be top of the agenda" for Commissioner Andriukaitis's visit.

Ms McGuinness, who is vice-president of the European Parliament, also maintained that any consignments of Brazilian meat destined for Europe must be subject to stringent inspections before being cleared for entry.

"These consignments must be stopped and double checked," she said.

Ms McGuinness said the visit by Commissioner Andriukaitis to Brazil this week would be crucially important.

ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch echoed Ms McGuinness's concerns at a meeting with Commissioner Andriukaitis in Brussels last week.

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"The commissioner informed ICSA that he was travelling to Brazil on Sunday and he accepted the ICSA argument for a tough response," Mr Punch said.

All the main farm organisations have called for meat imports into the EU from Brazil to be suspended.

Brazil accounts for over 40pc of EU beef imports. In 2016, Brazil sent 140,000 tonnes of beef and 500,000 tonnes of poultry meat to the EU last year.

The EU has suspended imports from the four Brazilian plants that have approval to export to the EU and that were among the 21 plants implicated in this investigation.

But IFA president Joe Healy called for the EU to take firmer action on Brazil.

"We've called for a total ban of all meat products coming from Brazil, any meat products in transit need to be turned around and brought back to Brazil again. Let them sort out their shop and come back into the market," Mr Healy said.

An IFA delegation travelled to Brussels last week to lobby for political support for a ban on Brazilian meat imports.

Meanwhile, China, Chile and Egypt announced yesterday that they would be reopening their markets to Brazilian beef. The news was hailed by Brazilian authorities as a "categorical statement of the quality of the Brazilian sanitary (inspections) system."

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