Consumers in Africa’s richest country face “serious health risks” from imported Brazilian chicken, according to SABC.
Retailers may be stocking wrongly labelled chicken that could have be thawed, reworked and refrozen before hitting supermarket shelves. This means meat could have high levels of dangerous bacteria, like salmonella, that could make people sick.
Antidumping organisation the Fairplay Movement – set up to challenge cheap chicken imports that have contributed to a crisis in South Africa’s poultry industry – have pounced on the report.
Food safety ‘time bomb’
“FairPlay has been campaigning for [the South African] government to apply the same strict safety measures to chicken imports as those that South African producers conform to, but so far to no avail,” said the movement’s founder Francois Baird.
“This independent investigation into imported chicken from Brazil proves how important it is to defuse this time bomb.”
In the report, a sample of Brazilian chicken was shown to have a bacterial count so high that it was not fit for human consumption.
But it is not just Brazilian chicken imports that the Fairplay Movement has squawked about. In a meeting with EU trade representatives, the movement claim to have shown officials frozen European chicken meat samples where it was “impossible” to identify its country of origin.
“It is irresponsible to accept at face value the food safety credentials from abattoirs thousands of kilometres away and to blindly trust that cold chain integrity is maintained, given the shipment over vast distances,” added Baird.
“When last did [government] visit the source abattoirs in the EU and Brazil? If we skimp on these initial checks, and then add to it that bulk frozen portions are then thawed, reprocessed, repacked or merely sold as ‘loose serve’, all at a significant number of points all over South Africa, how will we ever guarantee food safety?”
The Brazilian Animal Protein Association (ABPA), which promotes Brazil’s chicken exports, could not comment at the time of writing.