BILLINGS, Mont. – R-CALF is asking the Trump Administration to ban imports of beef produced in Brazil until country of origin labeling (COOL) is reinstated. The organization recently launched a petition with the goal of collecting 100,000 signatures within the next 30 days.
The petition cites the anti-corruption investigation targeting dozens of meat processors in Brazil. In March, the Federal Police raided the facilities of meat packers, including JBS SA and BRF SA. Prosecutors allege that federal regulators took bribes in exchange for loosening food safety regulations resulting in adulterated food products entering commerce. The Federal Police recently indicted 63 individuals, including BRF director Andre Luiz Baldissera, as a result of the investigation.
Most countries that had banned imports of Brazilian beef scaled back broad restrictions and focused the bans on specific facilities implicated in the investigation. The United States did not ban imports of beef produced in Brazil. However, all Brazilian beef products imported into the US are subject to point-of-entry re-inspection by Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspectors, and all ready-to-eat products from Brazil will be re-inspected and tested for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.
Still, R-CALF believes Brazilian beef is “unsafe,” and the repeal of COOL eliminated the requirement that imported beef products be labeled.
“So, today, an unlabeled package of Brazilian T-bone steaks can be offered alongside an unlabeled package of United States T-bone steaks and both packages will bear an official US inspection sticker,” R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said in a statement. “Consumers won’t have a clue as to which of those steaks was produced by the American rancher.”
R-CALF isn’t the only organization to object to imports of Brazilian beef. Food & Water Watch, an environmental advocacy group, urged Acting Agriculture Secretary Michael Young to revoke the meat inspection equivalency status of Brazil.
In a letter to Young, Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said that the last audit report posted in 2015 by FSIS showed Brazil had still not implemented “a recognized laboratory testing program for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) at its government laboratories.” The first shipments of fresh beef from Brazil arrived in the US in October 2016.