The United States halted imports of fresh Brazilian beef on Thursday after a high percentage of shipments failed to pass safety checks. The USDA had “recurring concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market” after increasing tests on Brazilian beef in March, according to a statement from the USDA.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway said, in a prepared statement: “U.S. consumers enjoy the safest food supply in the world and, like Sec. Perdue, I am committed to keeping it that way. Halting imports of fresh beef from Brazil is an appropriate and necessary measure as Brazilian officials work to assess and correct the situation, and gives U.S. officials time to develop a better understanding of the magnitude of the problem and acceptable solutions. I am thankful for the secretary’s swift response and for the continued work of the folks at USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service to protect the food we eat.”
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson applauded the USDA action, “We’ve long had concerns about the importation of fresh beef from Brazil. Since the 2015 repeal of Country-Of-Origin Labeling (COOL), food safety scandals can undermine consumer confidence in the entire beef industry, harming American producers’ bottom line. This incident underscores the importance of COOL to protect American beef producers and consumers alike.”
The USDA said it has been monitoring the situation for several months, “Since March, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has been inspecting 100 percent of all meat products arriving in the United States from Brazil. FSIS has refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products. That figure is substantially higher than the rejection rate of 1 percent of shipments from the rest of the world. Since the implementation of the increased inspection, FSIS has refused entry to 106 lots (approximately 1.9 million pounds) of Brazilian beef products due to public health concerns, sanitary conditions, and animal health issues. It is important to note that none of the rejected lots made it into the U.S. market.”
Secretary Perdue issued the following statement: “Ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply is one of our critical missions, and it’s one we undertake with great seriousness. Although international trade is an important part of what we do at USDA, and Brazil has long been one of our partners, my first priority is to protect American consumers. That’s what we’ve done by halting the import of Brazilian fresh beef. I commend the work of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families.”