Brazil has a system that could, in theory, guarantee food reaching EU consumers is safe, said the European Commission audit. However, it has identified “shortcomings” in a system already under intense pressure.
It found that Brazil’s control system for beef, horse and chicken was capable of providing the guarantees the EU wants, but many systems, barring beef, were not up to scratch.
Audits that should check meat is okay to be sold to the EU were “not effective” in detecting or acting upon non-compliance, the audit found.
The report concluded that:
• staff in meat factories were not always free from “conflicts of interest”;
• authorities “failed” to ensure all chicken slaughterhouses were under supervision of official veterinarians;
• Brazilian officials signed export certificates without being able to verify the accuracy of traceability or inspection claims;
• a list of establishments eligible to export to the EU – which Brazil has to send to the European Commission – was not accurate or up-to-date.
The European Commission carried out its audit in Brazil from 2-12 May 2017 and the results were published at the end of September. The probe covered 13 slaughterhouses – six for beef, five for poultry and two for horsemeat – across six Brazilian states.
While the EU does not recommend suspending trade with Brazil over the so-called shortcomings, 12 recommendations have been sent to the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture to consider. These include ensuring the industry system for checking salmonella presence is equivalent to that in the EU, and enhancing measures to prevent conflicts of interest for meat factory workers.
‘Litany of failures’
The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture or the Brazilian Animal Protein Association (ABPA) could not be reached to comment on this story.
However, the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) said the findings undermined the EU’s decision to offer Latin American trade block Mercosur a 70,000 tonne tariff rate quota for beef earlier this month.
“This latest EU report highlights a litany of failures by Brazil on EU standards and is another serious wake-up call for the EU Commission,” said IFA livestock chairman Angus Woods.
“The credibility of the EU Commission involved, in ignoring the findings of the Food and Veterinary Office and proceeding to allow sub-standard Brazilian beef and other meat imports in to the EU, is seriously at risk.”
Earlier this week the IFA protested outside the EU Commission offices in Dublin over its plan to offer Mercosur access to Europe’s beef and poultry market.