United States halts fresh Brazil beef imports over safety concerns

Imports of fresh Brazilian beef have been suspended by USDA over safety concerns

Imports of fresh Brazilian beef have been suspended by USDA over safety concerns

Foreseeing problems, Brazil's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (Mapa) announced on Wednesday (June 21st), they were suspending beef exports by five meatpackers to the United States after U.S. health officials identified irregularities in the products.

This week the USA has chose to suspend all fresh meat imports from Brazil. That figure is substantially higher than the rejection rate of 1% of shipments from the rest of the world.

The Agriculture Department said it denied 11 percent of Brazil's fresh beef imports to the US since it began inspecting all Brazilian meat products in March.

Minerva, whose shares were up slightly, said it would ship fresh beef to the USA market from Uruguay rather than Brazil, adding that the change would not affect its export volumes.

The announcement from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue comes three months after a scandal involving allegations that meat inspectors in Brazil took bribes, leading to several countries temporarily halting imports.

Maggi said Brazil will fight for the USA market and that he plans to head a mission to the United States to negotiate to resumption of Brazilian beef exports.

The Brazilian government told the United States it's working to address safety issues, including shutting down five facilities. "I commend the work of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families", he said.

The European Union suspended imports from the involved Brazilian establishments and deleted them from the list of sites from which imports into the EU are authorised.

The suspensions didn't last long but it still had an effect on Brazil's meat industry, which saw big losses in sales.

Antonio Camardelli, president of Brazil's Meat Exporters Association (Abiec), said the loss was potentially "incalculable". Since the 2015 repeal of Country-Of-Origin Labeling (COOL), food safety scandals can undermine consumer confidence in the entire beef industry, harming American producers' bottom line.

De Matos also buys meat from Texas, the biggest cattle producing state, and said he probably would not buy from Brazil even if the ban is lifted. However, USDA's decision this week overrules Brazil's own food safety policing.

Results of stepped up inspections of Brazilian meat products provided evidence for the secretary to change his position. Prior to this trade deal Brazil had not had access into the US since 2003 because of foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks.

In a separate decision in August, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service determined that Brazil's food safety system governing meat products remains equivalent to that of the United States and that fresh - chilled or frozen - beef could be safely imported from Brazil.

Among the companies under investigation is JBS, a Sao Paulo-based company that is one of the world's largest beef processors.

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