USDA imposes re-inspection of Brazilian beef

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – All Brazilian beef products imported into the United States are subject to point-of-entry re-inspection by Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspectors, the US Dept. of Agriculture said. Re-inspections will include 100 percent testing of beef trimmings from Brazil for Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157 shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC).

Additionally, all the ready-to-eat products from Brazil will be re-inspected and tested for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.

“Keeping food safe for American families is our top priority,” Mike Young, Acting Deputy Secretary of USDA said in a statement. “FSIS has strengthened the existing safeguards that protect the American food supply as a precaution and is monitoring the Brazilian government’s investigation closely.”

USDA noted that none of the establishments implicated in the meat industry bribery scandal have shipped meat to the US.

Meanwhile, some Brazil meat plants are under the watchful eye of inspectors. The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Farming said inspectors were dispatched to 18 meat processing facilities implicated in a bribery scandal involving meat companies and federal food inspectors in Brazil.

Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said, “Nothing will come out of these slaughterhouses without the express authorization of our auditors, who will work on a rotating basis.”

President Michel Temer, Agriculture Ministry officials and Brazil’s diplomatic corps continue to work diligently to calm domestic and trade partners’ fears about the safety and quality of the meat exports from Brazil. Maggi said the Ministry imposed the strict oversight measures following a federal investigation targeting the Brazilian meat industry. Prosecutors allege that federal regulators took bribes in exchange for loosening food safety regulations resulting in adulterated food products entering commerce. The Ministry said 33 agency employees are under investigation as part of “Operation Weak Meat.”

On March 21, Mexico joined a growing list of countries to impose bans on meat and poultry imports from Brazil. The National Health, Safety and Agro-Food Quality Service (SENASICA) in Mexico suspended imports of poultry from Brazil as a precautionary measure. The agency said importation of poultry meat products has not been allowed since March 19. Brazil does not export beef or pork products to Mexico, according to SENASICA.

However, SENASICA said, the uncertainty surrounding meat products from Brazil prompted the agency to restrict imports of poultry from Brazil until sanitary authorities there “offer scientific evidence and sufficient guarantees of health, quality and safety,” of Brazilian meat products.

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