EU checks expose ‘serious risk’ from Brazil meat

Vytenis Andriukaitis accused Brazil of 'systematic failures' in food safety controls

Tougher food safety checks on Brazilian imports prevented meat and poultry contaminated with salmonella and E.coli from entering Europe, according to a senior EU official. 

European health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said reinforced control checks carried out at EU boarders led to the rejection of over 100 consignments of Brazilian meat destined for Europe.

Among the 108 consignments stopped from entering Europe, 77 were due to presence of salmonella in poultry; four due to the presence of Shiga toxin producing E.coli in beef; two for drug residues in horsemeat; and 25 for other reasons including incorrect certification and cold chain problems.

Reinforced checks for all Brazilian meat entering Europe will now remain in place and Andriukaitis has raised serious concerns about the quality of Brazil’s meat inspection systems four months after a widely publicised tainted meat scandal rocked Brazil.

Brazil ‘failed’ to address ‘shortcomings’

In May, a European food safety audit led by Andriukaitis carried out a comprehensive probe of the systems put in place by Brazil’s government that has been plunged into turmoil by the meat scandal and more recently allegations of corruption.

The European Commission (EC) audit found “a number of systematic failures in the controls” put in place by Brazil.

The six-page document, seen by this site, said the audit uncovered “a range of critical deficiencies”, which were identified particularly in the horsemeat and poultry sectors.

To my regret, Brazilian authorities seem to have failed to act on recommendations to address shortcomings raised in previous audits,” said Andriukaitis on 12 June during an update to EU ministers.

Trio of demands set

Andriukaitis has written to Blairo Maggi, Brazil’s minister of agriculture, livestock and supply, to strongly request the immediate implementation of three measures.

First, the withdrawal of authorisation granted to slaughterhouses and horse-exporting companies eligible to ship horsemeat to the EU. Second, to not grant any new factories a licence to export to the EU; and thirdly to perform microbiological checks on all meat and poultry products destined for the EU.

A new audit of Brazil’s controls has been scheduled for the end of 2017 by the EC.

Blairo Maggi’s office could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.

It is now four months since the rotten meat scandal rocked Brazil. In March 2017, more than 1,000 police launched a major raid on Brazilian factories due to suspicions that government health inspectors were being bribed to turn a blind eye to a food safety issues. Three plants were closed and 21 were placed under government inspection. Of those 21, five were licensed to export meat to the EU.

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