Brazilian chicken a ‘serious health risk’

By Oscar Rousseau contact

- Last updated on GMT

An SABC TV segment found that Brazilian chicken be thawed and refrozen multiple times before reaching shoppers
An SABC TV segment found that Brazilian chicken be thawed and refrozen multiple times before reaching shoppers

Related tags: Africa, European union

South Africa’s antidumping PR machine has claimed it’s “no surprise” imported Brazilian chicken could be thawed and refrozen before reaching consumers, an allegation reported by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

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.

Zwelinzima Vavi (in red) and industry workers 2

But it is not just Brazilian chicken imports that the Fairplay Movemen​t 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.

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Cry, bay, cry Part II

Posted by Fabio Nunes,

In addition to what has been previously posted, it is important to remember that SA has been hit, again and recently, by another HPAI outbreak, as well. This kind of thing, put consumers readily away from the local supply while lead them to look for a safe chicken meat supply - from Brazil and EU. Certainly the local industry fears that the imported chicken meat gain the preference of the consumers over the local product for a matter of LOWER PRICE and CONFIDENCE. If that happens, it would a serious threat for the SAfrican poultry industry, given that reverting consumer's choice based on LOWER PRICE and CONFIDENCE could be quite a hard task to deal with in the mid and long run.

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Cry, baby, cry.....

Posted by Fabio Nunes,

It is widely known that SA's poultry industry is not as efficient as Brazil's for many different reasons. Second, SA has been battling, for years now, against the Brazilian chicken imports which is accused of dumping by the RSA poultry industry and entities alike. Competitiveness is not dumping!
Not succeeding with this poor, innocuous cry-out against the efficiency of Brazil's poultry industry, and the consequent relative higher competitiveness when compared to SA's poultry products, the weapons now have been zeroing in the bacteriological quality of the Brazilian chicken after the product has been exposed to unclear, suspicious storage and conservation conditions! Come on....
If what the article reports and that NGO mention were true, so, in the very first instance of the problem, the FAULT would be, in fact, of the SAfrican health and sanitary authorities for allowing a (presumably) over-contaminated chicken to enter the country and hit the market and consumers. As the SAfrican authorities certainly did their job correctly and the product fully complied with the SAfrican regulations, the origin of the problem is, presumably, the local chicken importers/dealers' responsibility for the (apparently poor) storage conditions described in the article, which has allowed the frozen merchandise to thawing prior to re-freezing and hit the market!
Brazil supplies the world with healthy chicken products since 1975. Since 2004 the country is the largest chicken meat exporter and, last year, exported more than 4 million MT to about 160 countries, including Japan and EU, whose food safety regulations are an unquestionable technical reference for the rest of the world! I think these few figures and short comments speak for themselves!

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